Every year conflicts, persecution and natural disasters force millions of children, women and men to flee their homes in search of safety. Some look for refuge in EU. Last year alone member states offered protection to 135,700 asylum seekers, nearly half of which were given refugee status. In honour of World Refugee Day on 20 June, we take a look at what the Parliament and the EU are doing to help.
By the end of 2013 there were 16.7 million refugees in the world, according to UNHCR The Middle East, South East Asia, Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa were the regions with the most refugees.
More people granted protection in the EU
In 2013 435,000 people applied for asylum in the EU, up from 335,000 the year before. EU member states offered protection to 135,700 asylum seekers last year and almost half were granted refugee status. Syrians accounted for 26% of people granted protection in the EU last year.
Five member states are responsible for 70% of refugees granted protection: Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
A new common European asylum system
The European Parliament approved in 2013 new common asylum rules to ensure decent reception and living conditions of asylum seekers in the EU and ensure that asylum seekers are not transferred to member states unable to ensure decent living conditions for them.
In a resolution in October 2013, MEPs called for a more humane approach to migration in Europe after hundreds of migrants died off the coast of Lampedusa earlier that month. They also insisted that Eurosur, a pan-European border surveillance system, must also be used to help save migrants' lives.
Funding to help refugees
A significant part of the European Commission humanitarian aid budget is allocated to projects supporting refugees (28% in 2012).
EU countries will have to allocate more funds to improve their asylum systems and help integrate migrants, according to the new Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, approved earlier this year. The fund has a total budget of €3.1 billion for 2014-2020.