France says has taken in nearly 3,000 Syrians since 2011

17th October 2013, Comments 0 comments

France has taken in nearly 3,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict, the foreign ministry said Thursday in response to rights groups' allegations Paris is dragging its heels.

French President Francois Hollande has been at the forefront of efforts for firm action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, but Paris has drawn flak for not doing enough to accept refugees from the war-torn country.

On Wednesday, France committed to take in 500 "particularly vulnerable" Syrians at the request of the United Nations. Germany, by contrast, has agreed to accept 5,000.

"Since the start of the crisis, a total of nearly 3,000 Syrian nationals have been welcomed in France," said Romain Nadal, foreign ministry spokesman.

Nadal said their demands for asylum "were being considered with particular kindness", adding that Paris was also issuing long-stay visas for some Syrians.

Nevertheless, several local human rights groups have accused France of not doing enough.

The issue was highlighted earlier this month when a group of about 60 Syrian refugees occupied part of the northern French port of Calais to demand entry into Britain, after alleging they were being dismissed by French authorities.

The protest saw France offering them the right to seek asylum.

More than two million Syrians have left their country since fighting first erupted in March 2011, mainly seeking refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, placing a huge burden on these nations.

With no end to the conflict in sight, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has urged EU nations to offer asylum to 10,000 Syrians this year and another 30,000 in 2014.

© 2013 AFP

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