UN chief urges European leaders to support refugees

April 28, 2016 13:47

VIENNA - Ever tighter restrictions on migrants and refugees in Europe are giving the wrong signal about countries' obligations under international humanitarian law, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

Ban, the first foreign dignitary to address a session of the Austrian parliament, expressed his concern a day after lawmakers passed some of Europe's toughest asylum rules and plans for a fence at Austria's Alpine border with Italy were unveiled.

"I am alarmed about growing xenophobia here and beyond," he said during a visit to Austria, where anti-immigrant far-right candidate Norbert Hofer won over a third of the votes in a first round of a presidential election and faces a run-off next month.

"European countries are now adopting increasingly restrictive immigration and refugee policies," Ban said. "Such policies and measures send a very negative message about the obligations of member states under international humanitarian law and European law."

He said he would welcome open discussions in Europe on integration and called on all European Union leaders to live up to the principles that have guided them in the past.

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