UN: Step up efforts to protect migrants, refugees

A new U.N. report expresses concern about rising xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and refugees.

“Xenophobic and racist responses to refugees and migrants seem to be reaching new levels of stridency, frequency and public acceptance,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in the report released Monday.

Several countries in Europe have built fences or closed their borders to try to stem the flow of people fleeing war and poverty seeking entry into their countries.

The secretary-general warns that this growing trend, as well as the criminalizing of irregular migration, will not stop the outflows of people, but rather force them to take more risky routes and extreme measures.

“Our interconnected world needs a dignified approach to human mobility rather than one built on closed borders and criminalization,” Ban writes.

Since January, the International Organization for Migration estimates that 184,546 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Such journeys are extremely dangerous, with some 1,357 people having died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year.

The U.N. says migration is here to stay, because of conflict, poverty, the impact of climate change, natural disasters and a growing youth population in need of jobs, and sustainable response is required.

Ban is urging countries to shift their policy and public discourse away from its current negative trend and toward the protection of refugees and migrants. He also emphasizes the need to address the root causes of mass migration, saying it must be the “cornerstone” of international efforts.

The U.N. wants countries to sign up to a “Global Compact” on a comprehensive refugee response by 2018 that focuses on the need for shared global responsibility in dealing with the issue.

The plan also calls on governments to resettle at least 10 percent of the world’s 19.6 million refugees annually.

Source: VOANews.com

(Photo:  UNHCR/L Pavicevic)