Most of the people flooding into Europe are refugees fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries who have a legal right to seek asylum, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
“The secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon) stressed the individual and collective responsibility of European states to respond responsibly and humanely,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, referring to calls by Ban with the leaders of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia about the crisis.
“He stressed that the large majority of people arriving in Europe are refugees fleeing war and violence, who have a right to seek asylum without any form of discrimination,” Dujarric added.
Some European countries have suggested that the majority of people reaching the European Union from the Balkans are migrants seeking better economic conditions who do not deserve asylum or legal status as refugees, while other European nations have said they will only take Christian refugees, not Muslims.
Dujarric said there can be no discrimination on basis of religion. He said Ban praised the efforts of many European leaders to deal humanely with the situation and urged Europe to seek a unified approach.
“As European leaders, their stand against increasing xenophobia, discrimination and violence against migrants and refugees in Europe is particularly important,” Dujarric said about Ban's phone calls. “He (Ban) hoped that any manifestation of these phenomena would be addressed firmly and without delay.”
“The secretary-general assured European leaders of the United Nations readiness, through its agencies … 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.”