U.N. refugee chief says fears for future of European asylum system

by Reuters
Friday, 18 December 2015 15:02 GMT

Refugees and migrants are seen on a bus, following their arrival aboard the passenger ferry Eleftherios Venizelos from the island of Lesbos at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

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GENEVA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee chief called on Friday for "massive resettlement" of Syrian and other refugees within Europe, distributing "hundreds of thousands" before the contingent's asylum system crumbles.

Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, welcomed an agreement for the European Union's border agency Frontex to boost its presence in Greece to help register, screen and interview asylum seekers, but said it was "not enough".

"I mean hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people, not just what has been discussed until now in relation to resettlement," he told a news conference. "If this is not put in place and the tragedy in the Aegean goes on and the Balkan chaotic situation goes on, I must say I am very worried for the future of the European asylum system".

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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