Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has labelled the EU’s refugee relocation scheme as ‘broken’ after newly released figures show that only 322 refugees based in Greece and Italy have been resettled, despite a commitment to resettle 160,000.

Speaking in the Dáil during statements on the last European Council meeting Crowe called for urgent and united action to mitigate the worst refugee crisis that Europe has experienced since World War Two.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“More than 1 million refugees arrived in the EU by land and sea last year. It is the biggest crisis of forced displacement since World War 2.

“One the primary responses of the EU was an agreement to resettle 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece. Considering the scale of need and the scale of the crisis this was seen as a low amount, but to date only 322 refugees have been resettled.

“This is a unacceptable. The Minister of State Minister for European Affairs, Dara Murphy, described the scheme as inefficient, in reality I think these figures shows its broken.

“In contrast to the snail’s pace of joint projects, EU countries have taken snap unilateral measures, including border lockdowns in the heart of the Schengen free-travel zone, and introduced tighter asylum laws in places such as Denmark, Germany, and Sweden.

“This is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world and the EU is simply failing to act in any coordinated manner, which is worsening the problem.

“So far this State has only taken in 20 refugees under this programme, despite the Irish Government agreeing to accept 2,600.

“The International Organisation for Migration has said that 31,244 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece by sea since the start of this year, which is 21 times more than the same period last year. The organisation says projections indicate arrivals in Greece for 2016 may significantly exceed last year’s 853,650 record.

“The refugee crisis is not going away. Many European politicians, particularly those on the right, want to close their eyes and somehow wish away this challenge, or some of them are seeking to transfer the refugee crisis onto the shoulders of others. Their solutions are not grounded in any reality.

“Refugees and asylum seekers are here in Europe and we need to act with unity in providing them with the protections and supports they clearly need.

“Ireland needs to show leadership on this issue. We need to fix the current system. Italy and Greece can’t be asked to carry this responsibility alone.”