The U.N. refugee agency is urging the European Union to take in far greater numbers of refugees than planned as the number of desperate Syrians fleeing conflict continues to grow.

The EU's 28 nations resettled only around 8,500 people in need of protection last year, according to UNHCR figures, and plans to resettle 20,000 refugees from outside Europe over the next two years.

UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Turk told EU lawmakers Thursday that "there will be a much greater and more urgent need to increase these numbers."

Turk said the numbers of migrants entering the EU via Turkey into Greece had increased significantly recently, and that most of those coming in were Syrians.