Managing national borders ‘cannot be based on any form of discrimination’: UN chief

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres. File photo

Geneva (UN) – Refugees fleeing conflict and persecution are entitled to protection, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday, expressing concern at decisions around the world that have undermined 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,” Mr Guterres said in a statement.

Noting that countries have the right and the obligation to responsibly manage their borders to avoid infiltration by members of terrorist organizations, Mr Guterres cautioned that this cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality.

“[Doing so] is against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based,” he said.

The UN Secretary-General also warned that it could “trigger widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organizations we all want to fight against” and that “blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements.”

Furthermore, Mr Guterres expressed his disagreement with the United States Executive Order on refugees.

The statement follows President Donald Trump’s signing last Friday of an Executive Order that suspends the US refugee programme for 120 days and bars entry of refugees from several mostly Muslim countries, including Syria, until further notice.

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