Ban Ki-moon warns over refugee deaths

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says horrified and heartbroken by latest loss of refugee lives in Mediterranean and Europe

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Ban Ki-moon says governments must step up response to refugee crisis

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on governments on Friday to pay more attention to Europe's refugee challange following recent drownings at sea and the discovery of refugee bodies in back of an abandoned truck in Austria.

He called for a "collective political response" to avert "a crisis of solidarity."

On Thursday, Aug. 27, 71 people, including children, thought to be Syrians, were found dead in back of an abandoned truck in Austria near Hungarian.

Some 200 others are feared drowned after two boats capsized as they tried to cross from Zuwara, west of Tripoli in Libya, to Italy. The refugees were from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco, and Bangladesh, an official said.

Ban stressed that he was "horrified and heartbroken" by the latest loss of lives in the Mediterranean and Austria.

"A large majority of people undertaking these arduous and dangerous journeys are refugees fleeing from places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

"The international community must also show greater determination in resolving conflicts and other problems that leave people little choice but to flee," he added.

He called on all governments to act with compassion and humanity.

The UN chief also said the conflicts and repression forcing people to flee must be resolved.

"The Syrian war, for example, has just been manifested on a roadside in the heart of Europe," he said.

UN Secretary General Ban said that he would convene a special meeting devoted to these global concerns on Sept. 30, during the annual UN General Assembly devoted to the escalating influx of refugees in Europe.

"This is a human tragedy that requires a determined collective political response. It is a crisis of solidarity, not a crisis of numbers," he said.

In Austria, of the 71 refugees found dead in the truck, 59 were men, eight were women, and four were children, including a girl estimated at 1 or 2 years old and three boys aged between 8 and 10.

The dead were believed to be Syrian asylum seekers. Austrian police said on Friday that they had possibly died of suffocation. Hungarian police said they had arrested four people.

An ongoing investigation was expected to reveal further details.

Tens of thousands of refugees from conflict-hit states in the Middle East and Africa have been trying to flee to Europe in recent months.

According to new figures by the UNHCR, 107,500 people crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe only in the last month, some of them pay large sums of money to smugglers to get them through borders illegally.

UNCHR figures show that at least 2,636 people have died as they attempt to enter Europe in 2015.


TRTWorld and agencies