France Agrees to Shelter Just 500 Syrian Refugees
With no end to the conflict in Syria in sight, France has agreed to take in 500 Syrian refugees at the request of the United Nations.
The favorable reply came as a result of talks in Paris between French President François Hollande and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, the UN agency said Wednesday.
The refugees in question are among those considered “particularly vulnerable”, the agency’s local representative, Philippe Leclerc, told AFP.
The number of refugees that France has agreed to shelter however is way below the figure that surfaced in initial reports in France, which suggested the country will take 1,200 people.
At the beginning of October, as Bulgaria was struggling to cope with increasing numbers fleeing the conflict in Syria, seventeen countries including the United States, France and Australia agreed to receive quotas of refugees.
They are offering about 10,000 places (in total), with some programmes mainly aimed at the 2014 calendar year.
The decision comes amid criticism of some Western nations for failing to share the burden created by the exodus of at least two million people from Syria.
Under the agreement, the UNHCR will assess refugees for relocation to the 17 host countries, giving priority to the most vulnerable.
How many refugees each of the 17 countries will receive was not immediately decided, but initial reports in France suggested it will take 1,200 people.
Bulgaria is the gateway to the European Union for refugees fleeing Syria via Turkey, many crossing the border illegally to seek asylum.
It now receives up to 100 mainly Syrian refugees a day - a sharp increase on the four per month arriving a year ago.
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