United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to European leaders “to be the voice of those in need of protection” and to quickly find a joint approach to the refugee and migration crisis that shares responsibilities equitably, as Germany and Austria continue to welcome thousands of people fleeing their war-torn homelands.
According to a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, the Secretary-General spoke by telephone with several European leaders today to discuss the migration crisis. Recognizing the challenges that large-scale refugee and migration flows pose to Member States, the UN chief appealed to the leaders to be the voice of those in need of protection and to quickly find a joint approach to share responsibilities equitably.”
Ban’s call echoes similar appeals from top UN agency officials who have appealed for swift action as the migration crisis in Europe has deepened over the past week.
Yesterday, the UN refugee agency, which has appealed to the European Union to admit up to 200,000 asylum-seekers fleeing conflict zones like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, welcomed the decision of Austria and Germany to receive thousands of refugees and migrants crossing the border from Hungary over the past 72 hours.
The agency has repeatedly stressed the urgent need to put in place an emergency plan to manage the crisis, and Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres recommended several concrete proposals, saying that dealing with the biggest influx of refugees into Europe for decades requires a “massive common effort” and break with the current fragmented approach, which he said has led Europe overall to fail to find an effective common response.
On Thursday, moved by the “heart-breaking” image of a drowned Syrian refugee boy who washed up on a beach in Turkey that ricocheted around the world on social media, along with equally painful images of children being passed over barbed wire fences by desperate parents, Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) declared: “It is not enough for the world to be shocked by these images. Shock must be matched by action.”
According to today’s statement, Ban in his phone conversations assured European leaders of the UN’s readiness to continue supporting their efforts to develop a response that is effective, feasible and in line with universal human rights and humanitarian standards, including the right to claim asylum.
The Secretary-General also commended the leaders for having voiced concern about increasing xenophobia, discrimination, and violence against migrants and refugees in Europe. “He hoped that any manifestation of these phenomena would be addressed firmly and without delay,” added the statement.