WASHINGTON -- Top European Union officials met with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Friday to discuss the vast influx of refugees who have traveled to Europe, and the ongoing debate over how the U.S. should help them.
"They understand that it's not a European issue. It's a global issue," Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU official in charge of migration, told reporters in a press conference after the meeting.
Though Avramopoulos seemed positive about the discussion, he said the United States' plan to take in 10,000 refugees isn't sufficient to help resolve the crisis.
"The United States should be more generous," Avramopoulos said. While he appreciated the number as a symbolic offering, he said, "it can be more substantial" as well.
At least 750,000 refugees have arrived in Europe this year alone, seeking asylum from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. While some countries, most notably Germany, have pledged to open their doors to migrants and refugees, others, like Hungary and the Czech Republic, have been less generous.
A common misleading argument against letting in refugees, who are primarily from the Middle East, is that many could be terrorists hoping to attack western soil.
Avramopoulos, however, said he didn't find this argument credible, and pointed out that past European attacks have been perpetrated by homegrown terrorists.
"There is no link," he said, between terrorism and Europe's refugee crisis.
Though many migrants and refugees are arriving from countries like Syria and Afghanistan, where there are extremist elements, it is precisely this extremism that is driving them out.
The EU met with African nations on Wednesday and Thursday in Malta to discuss the crisis, and Avramopoulos said that the body is trying to organize a similar meeting with Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to happen by the end of November. Turkey is the gate through which the majority of refugees are streaming into Europe, and has already agreed to a meeting, but the EU is still waiting for Lebanon and Jordan to confirm their participation.
The war and instability that has driven migrants and refugees from their homes in the Middle East and Africa are unlikely to be resolved any time soon.
"I'm afraid the flows will not subside. Because of what is happening there," Avramopoulos said.
"No rough sea, no wall, no fence," he said, "will hinder these people from taking their journey, in the beginning, of death and, after they disembark in Europe, of hope."
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