Refugees Fleeing Conflict and Persecution Are Entitled to Protection

UN Secretary-General Speaks on about Need to Protect Refugees

On my way back from Ethiopia, the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa that for decades has been keeping its borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbours, many times in dramatic security situations, I want to state the following:

  • Countries have the right, even the obligation, to responsibly manage their borders to avoid infiltration by members of terrorist organizations.
    • This cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality because:
      •  that is against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based;
      • that triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organisations we all want to fight against;
      • blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements.

I am also particularly concerned by the decisions that around the world have been undermining the integrity of the international refugee protection regime. Refugees fleeing conflict and persecution are finding more and more borders closed and increasingly restricted access to the protection they need and are entitled to receive, according to international refugee law. Image: Secretary-General António Guterres addresses journalists following his return to UN headquarters after attending a Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His briefing to the press touched on cooperation between the UN and the African Union; the situations in several African countries, including Mali and South Sudan; the situation in Syria; as well as protection of refugees and management of borders in the context of countering terrorism. 01 February 2017. United Nations, New York. UN Photo/Manuel Elias.

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