A boy walks on May 11, 2017 at Malakassa refugee camp, some 50km north of Athens where around 700 refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, wait their fate. (Photos by AFP)
On Tuesday, the EU
announced that the two countries have until June to start accepting refugees coming through Greece and Italy.
“I call on Poland and Hungary who have not relocated a single person… to start doing so right now,” said EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
At the peak of refugee influx to Europe
, the EU members agreed in September 2015 to share some 160,000 asylum seekers who had arrived in Greece and Italy. The scheme faced resistance from the very beginning, with states especially in Eastern Europe
complaining that taking in refugees would expose them to serious security and economic risks.
A four-months old baby girl is pictured on May 11, 2017 at Malakassa refugee camp, some 50km north of Athens where around 700 refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, wait their fate
“If no action is taken by them before the next (Commission) report in June, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the treaties and to open infringement procedures,” added Avramopoulos.
He added that only a total of 18,418 asylum seekers had been relocated from the two Mediterranean countries.
More than 1.1 million refugees, most of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa, flocked to Europe in 2015. The flow subsided to quarter of a million last year after the EU reached a deal with Turkey in March 2016 to take back all people landing on Greek islands in return for financial aid to Ankara and the lifting of short-term visa requirements for Turks, which is yet to go into force.