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The EU and its member states should guarantee Syrian refugees safe entry to the EU and access to fair asylum procedures, says the Civil Liberties Committee in a resolution voted on Thursday. It calls on the EU to go on providing humanitarian aid and support and on Syria’s neighboring countries to keep their borders open. Over 2 million refugees, 76% of whom are women and children, have now fled Syria.

MEPs stress “the importance at this stage of the situation to explore concretely whether, how and when member states could do more to reinforce their protection response to Syria”.

Access to a safe entry and fair asylum procedures

Member states should explore all existing EU laws and procedures for means to give Syrians fleeing their country safe entry and temporary admission to the EU, say MEPs.

Syrians seeking international protection should have “access to fair and efficient asylum procedures”, say MEPs, reiterating the need for more solidarity with member states facing particular pressure to receive refugees.

EU countries are encouraged to make full use of money to be made available from the Asylum and Migration Fund and the Preparatory Action to "Enable the resettlement of refugees during emergency situations".

Resettlement to address “acute needs”

The resolution encourages EU countries “to address acute needs through resettlement”, in addition to existing national quotas and through humanitarian admission.

Temporary protection

The possible influx of refugees into EU member states requires “responsible measures“, say MEPs, who call on them and the EU Commission to work on contingency planning, including the possibility of applying the Temporary Protection Directive, “if and when conditions demand it”.

Under this 2001 directive, which so far has never been triggered, refugees would be granted a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection period, as well as access to employment and accommodation.

Support Syria’s neighboring countries

The EU should convene a humanitarian conference on the Syrian refugee crisis, giving priority to helping host countries in the region (in particular Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq) in their efforts to host ever-growing refugee populations and keep their borders open to all Syrian refugees, MEPs say.

This conference should focus on humanitarian efforts and on strengthening the EU's role and involvement in the diplomatic efforts to help end the conflict in Syria, adds the text.

Next steps

The resolution will be voted by Parliament as a whole in Strasbourg next week, winding up a debate with the Council and Commission on EU and member state measures to tackle the flow of refugees from Syria.

Asylum claims in EU member states

Asylum claims by Syrians have continued to increase in 2013, to a total of 52,037 since the start of the conflict in 2011 in the EU, Switzerland and Norway.

Within the EU, Germany (14,842) and Sweden (14,083) have received 59% of the claims lodged. While other countries have seen significant increases in applications, only one other member state has received more than 2,000 claims (the UK with 2,634).

Result of the vote: 43 in favour, 2 against, 0 abstentions
In the chair: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)
Procedure: non-binding resolution