World

AP Interview: UN refugee agency chief in Jordan ties growing aid crisis to migration to Europe

  • Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The head of the European Union's executive says 22 of the member states should be forced to accept another 120,000 people in need of international protection who have come toward the continent at high risk through Greece, Italy and Hungary. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The head of the European Union's executive says 22 of the member states should be forced to accept another 120,000 people in need of international protection who have come toward the continent at high risk through Greece, Italy and Hungary. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Syrian refugee feeds milk to his daughter after they arrived on a dinghy, from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The head of the European Union's executive says 22 of the member states should be forced to accept another 120,000 people in need of international protection who have come toward the continent at high risk through Greece, Italy and Hungary. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    A Syrian refugee feeds milk to his daughter after they arrived on a dinghy, from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The head of the European Union's executive says 22 of the member states should be forced to accept another 120,000 people in need of international protection who have come toward the continent at high risk through Greece, Italy and Hungary. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 . photo, the head of the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan, Andrew Harper, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Amman, Jordan. The influx of refugees to Europe was triggered in part by donors taking the "cheap option" and not giving enough aid to displaced Syrians in Middle Eastern asylum countries, Harper said in an interview. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

    In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 . photo, the head of the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan, Andrew Harper, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Amman, Jordan. The influx of refugees to Europe was triggered in part by donors taking the "cheap option" and not giving enough aid to displaced Syrians in Middle Eastern asylum countries, Harper said in an interview. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)  (The Associated Press)

The head of the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan says donor countries chose the "cheap option" by failing to provide sufficient aid in the Syria crisis and now face consequences such as growing migration to Europe.

Andrew Harper told The Associated Press it would have been more cost-effective for the international community to spend more money in countries next to Syria, such as Jordan and Lebanon, where more than 4 million refugees found asylum.

Cash-strapped aid agencies have been forced to cut back support for desperate refugees in these countries, and more are now trying to reach Europe.

Harper said Wednesday that Europe, the Gulf states and others "sought the cheap option which was to provide us with peanuts in order to deal with the worst humanitarian situation for decades."