OECD chief urges European countries to improve refugee response

22 Sep 15

OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria today told European leaders to step up the continent’s response to the refugee crisis in order to make sure countries emerge stronger economically, socially and politically.

Launching two reports in Paris, the 2015 International Migration Outlook and a Policy Brief on the Refugee Crisis, he said Europe had both the experience and capacity to respond to the recent increase in refugee numbers.

But the reports concluded the situation required a comprehensive and co-ordinated international response to address both the immediate needs of asylum seekers and the longer-term challenge of helping them integrate.

“The human cost of this refugee crisis is appalling and countries need to quickly agree a fair allocation of refugees within Europe, and ensure that such vast numbers of troubled people receive shelter, food and support,” Gurria said.

“It’s essential that they also address the medium and long-term policy responses to this crisis.

“An emerging challenge will be the integration of the many new refugees who will remain in European host countries. We need to scale-up and adapt programmes so that refugees can integrate as quickly as possible in their new homes and make best use of their skills. We should all remember that migration is not a liability, but an asset.”

The European Border Agency FRONTEX counted more than 500,000 illegal border crossings until the end of August, nearly double the 280,000 recorded for the whole of 2014.

The OECD has forecast Europe might record more than one million asylum applications in 2015, of which as many as 450,000 people are expected to obtain a status of humanitarian migrant and eventually settle.

In the short run, processing and supporting such large numbers of refugees will pose daunting challenges and will be costly, the OECD said.

Over the longer term, countries will need intensive efforts to provide language training, assess individual skills and to address health and social problems, as well as working to help boost refugees’ chances of employment.

“Past experience of refugee crises suggests that if properly supported in their integration efforts, migrants can contribute significantly to the development of our countries,” the think-tank noted. 

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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