Peace in Syria won’t end refugee crisis, EU foreign policy chief says

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The European Union will be faced with large migration inflows even if the international community managed the “miracle” of ending the conflict in Syria, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Friday.

Syrians account for the largest national group among EU-bound refugees and migrants. According to the International Organization for Migration, of 485,500 people who entered Greece and Italy since January 1, more than 182,000 were Syrians.

“Let’s not delude ourselves. Today Syria is in a prominent position, with 4 million refugees abroad and 8 million displaced on Syrian territories. But beyond Syria, there is a world of wars, famine, misery,” Mogherini told La Repubblica newspaper.

“Even if by miracle we were to resolve tomorrow the Syrian problem, Libya would remain an open and uncontrolled corridor to Europe, at least until we manage to rebuild a state there. And beyond Libya there is the whole of Africa,” she added.

The EU is facing the biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the end of World War II, and its member states are squabbling on the extent to which the new arrivals should be welcomed and redistributed.

Mogherini said the bloc should be prepared to reform its asylum rules by majority voting, just as it decided earlier this week to redistribute of 120,000 asylum seekers overruling opposition from Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

“We must treat the issue as a European problem. So we will move in this direction. We hope to be able to do it consensually. But using the instruments allowed by the [EU] treaty should not be taboo,” Mogherini said, alluding to majority voting.

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