TOKYO: The refugee crisis gripping Europe is a problem that the whole world must deal with, G7 leaders said Friday, as it called for beefed-up efforts to tackle the root causes of mass migration.
Last year, some 1.3 million refugees, mostly from conflict-torn Syria and Iraq, asked for asylum in the European Union — more than a third of them in Germany — stretching resources and aggravating popular resentment in some countries.
The mass movement has provided fuel for Europe’s far right parties and populist politicians like France’s Marine Le Pen, who has called for a clampdown on immigration.
So far this year, the International Organisation for Migration says an estimated 190,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. More than 1,300 are known to have died en route.
“With the number of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable migrants at its highest level since the Second World War, the G7 recognises the ongoing large scale movements of migrants and refugees as a global challenge which requires a global response,” it said in a communique at the end of a two-day summit in Japan.
“We place the highest priority on humanely and effectively managing this challenge, addressing both the humanitarian consequences and the root causes of massive displacement.”
The G7 — the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada — said it would kick in more money to help the problem.
It gave no global figure, but German leader Angela Merkel told reporters the G7 had decided to dedicate its attention this year “especially to Iraq” — one of the chief sources of the tide of migrants fleeing conflict and seeking refuge in Europe — and would provide 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to the country.
– ‘Lasting solutions’ –
“We commit to increase global assistance to meet immediate and long-term needs of refugees and other displaced persons as well as their host communities,” they said.
“The G7 encourages international financial institutions and bilateral donors to bolster their financial and technical assistance.”
It added that a resolution to Syria’s civil war was crucial to plugging the flow of desperate people fleeing across borders.
“The G7 recalls that only sustainable political settlements within countries of origin, including Syria, will bring lasting solutions to the problem of forced displacement, including refugees,” the communique said.
“Large movements of people are a multi-faceted phenomenon, which requires addressing its root causes resulting from conflicts, state fragility and insecurity, demographic, economic and environmental trends as well as natural disasters.”
The statement came a day after European Council President Donald Tusk warned that the crisis was not just Europe’s problem.
“We are aware that it is because of geography that the most responsibility is, and will continue to be, placed on Europe,” Tusk told reporters on the sidelines of the summit in Ise-Shima, 300 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
“However we would also like the global community to show solidarity and recognise that this is a global crisis.”