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Shocked by frequent demonisation of migrants: UN rights chief

Press Trust of India  |  Geneva 

The UN human rights chief has expressed his concern over the "frequent demonisation of migrants", and exhorted leaders to step up to counter the "growing bigotry" about them, which is often suffused with racism and religious hatred and stirred up for political gain.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said this during the enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) yesterday and also urged European nations to accept more refugees.

"Every European knows that racial and religious prejudice is combustible," he said, adding he was "shocked and shamed by the frequent demonisation of migrants."

"I also oppose in the strongest possible terms the notion that migrants are a burden. On the contrary, as workers, consumers and tax-payers, they contribute to the economic growth of all societies, as many studies have demonstrated.

"It demonstrates conclusively that militarised deterrence and enforcement policies will fail. If no other option is available, then - just as many Europeans have done, in similar circumstances, in the past - people will brave terrible peril to seek safety for themselves and their children," Hussein said.

The UN rights chief also urged "leaders to step up to counter the growing bigotry about migrants, which is often suffused with racism and religious hatred and stirred up for political gain."

Special Rapporteur on the human rights for migrants Francois Crepeau at the session proposed to the European Union to choose "mobility over closure" in its migration policy and said sealing borders does not work.

"I am proposing to the EU to choose mobility over closure in its migration policy...For asylum seekers, Europe needs to let them go to where they think they have the best chances to find protection and integrate," Crepeau said.

India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva Ajit Kumar, during the interactive dialogue said, "There is a strong need to combat growing xenophobia, rising nationalist, populist politics and terror attacks in many parts of the world, including in the developed countries."

"The primary focus on security concerns heavily colours border management policies devised by countries," he added.

Thailand, one of the destination countries for migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh undertaking perilous journeys across Bay of Bengal, said, it had an experience of hosting more than one million refugees in the last four decades. However, no single country can solve this problem.

The EU, another destination country for a stream of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, said, "A common asylum policy is being implemented and a framework for a common immigration policy is being developed at EU level.

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First Published: Tue, June 16 2015. 04:28 IST