EU leaders call for global refugee quotas at UN event

European leaders are urging U.N. member states to introduce global refugee quotas to stem the crisis that has forced thousands to flee their homes in search of safety.

Addressing on Wednesday a high-level meeting on migration on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need for responsibility sharing among nations, calling on states to "significantly boost" the number of refugee resettlement places and to "share equitably in this effort."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Europe will not be able to carry the burden of the crisis on its own and needs a global quota system to ensure a fair distribution of people who qualify for asylum.

Europe, he added, doesn't have an obligation to give refugees a "new European life," but it has a "moral responsibility" to help them "regain their lives back home."

Echoing the remarks of his Hungarian counterpart, Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called for the establishment of "a Bretton Woods system of migration," referring to the Bretton Woods summit in 1944, which provided the basis for the modern system of central banking and foreign exchange as well as the creation of the World Bank, then called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the IMF.

Muscat also stressed that the international community is responsible for ensuring that global migration quotas aren't "decided by criminals and smugglers," but by democratically elected leaders.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, praised Orban's proposal for a global refugee quota system as highlighting "universal responsibility" for people fleeing violence and persecution.

The International Organization for Migration says a record number of people have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe this year, straining the 28-nation European Union and prompting a rash of border closures.