STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The European Union needs to grant asylum to more refugees and members must share the responsibility of hosting them more equally, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said on Tuesday.
With wars raging in Syria, Iraq and other countries, 50 million people are displaced worldwide due to conflicts and persecution, the highest number since World War II, according to the UN agency.
But the EU’s 28 member countries gave asylum to only 136,000 people in 2013, data from the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat showed.
Of those, Sweden and Germany, which have populations of just 10 million and more than 81 million respectively, took in the largest portions at about 20 percent each, according to the data. Figures for 2014 were not yet available.
“Unfortunately we have today a very dysfunctional European asylum system,” Guterres said at a joint press conference with Swedish ministers including Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.
“Sweden and Germany are doing the right thing but it is absolutely essential that other countries do the same, that all assume their responsibilities,” he said.
Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, said member countries would first need to implement existing EU directives and align the ways they process asylum applications. If this failed, a quota system was a possibility, he said.
Reporting by Daniel Dickson; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky