A Syrian refugee girl blows soap bubbles next to the border fence at the Greek-Macedonian border, at a makeshift camp for refugees and migrants near the village of Idomeni, Greece March 16, 2016
Alkis Konstantinidis—Reuters
By Simon Lewis
March 17, 2016

Europe is prepared to resettle as few as 72,000 Syrian refugees, according to figures from the European Commission that raise concerns about the E.U.’s ability to uphold a potential “one-for-one” refugee deal with Turkey.

Turkey is currently home to at least 1.7 million Syrian refugees. Negotiations are currently under way on a controversial deal that could see Syrian refugees who have tried to enter Europe via Greece sent back to Turkey in exchange for those who have so far stayed in Turkish camps.

The swap is supposed to involve equal numbers of refugees, but the European Commission says only 18,000 resettlement places had been identified, with an additional 54,000 places available “if needed,” according to the Guardian.

The commission’s vice-president, Frans Timmermans, insisted that a “coalition of the willing” European states would offer more places if Syrians, fleeing a five-year-old civil war, stopped arriving by unofficial means.

About 363,000 Syrians applied for asylum in Europe last year. A total of more than 1.1 million migrants and refugees arrived from all countries, the Guardian says.

[Guardian]

Write to Simon Lewis at simon_daniel.lewis@timeasia.com.

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