Refugee Crisis at Breaking Point, Says European Leaders as Obama Pledges the US Will Step in and Help

Macedonian policemen push back Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees who try to force their way through the Greek-Macedonian borders near the village of Idomeni, Greece, November 22, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Alexandros Avramidis)

European Council President Donald Tusk has warned that Europe is close to its limits when it comes to the ongoing refugee crisis, with new waves of migrants fleeing war and terrorism in Iraq and Syria continuing to come onto the continent.

"The practical capability of Europe to host new waves of refugees, not to mention irregular economic migrants, is close to limits," Tusk said at the end of the G20 summit in China, AFP reported.

He added that there are close to 65 million displaced people around the world, and urged economic leaders as part of the G20 summit to take responsibility and help those who are most in need.

"We have enough space for all parties to discuss these problems including China," Tusk said, calling for financial assistance and development aid for migrants' countries of origin. "Only global efforts will be able to bear fruits."

Nations such as Germany have taken in significant numbers of refugees, as many as 1.1 million in 2015, though German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted that mistakes have been made in the open door policy, and vowed that fewer people will be welcomed in 2016.

Migrants from Eritrea are seen on an overcrowded wooden vessel during a rescue operation by the Spanish NGO Proactiva, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea August 29, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Giorgos Moutafis)

"We didn't embrace the problem in an appropriate way. That goes as well for protecting the external border of the Schengen area," Merkel said in an interview last week.

"In Germany we ignored the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution," she added.

The German leader said the country had become complacent after years of welcoming migrants.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised Turkey's part in hosting refugees at the G20 summit, but said that the global community, including America, will also have to step up and help Europe deal with the crisis.

A police officer uses a mobile phone as migrants wait to disembark from the Italian Navy ship Borsini in the Sicilian harbour of Palermo, southern Italy, July 20, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane)

"Turkey hosts more refugees than any country in the world, and it has been a key partner in providing aid and assistance to vulnerable citizens that have poured out of Syria as well as Iraq," Obama said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"This is not an issue in which Turkey should be carrying the burden alone," he added. "It needs support from all of us, and we intend to provide it."

The G20 group later released a statement agreeing that world leaders need to share the burden when it comes to dealing with the refugee crisis.

"Worldwide massive forced displacement of people, unprecedented since the Second World War, especially those generated from violent conflicts, is a global concern," the leaders said at the end of the gathering in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

The group also reiterated the call from last year's summit in Turkey for "global concerted efforts in addressing the effects, protection need and root causes of refugee crisis to share in the burden associated with it."

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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