U.N. chief on migrant crisis: do not ‘build walls or exploit fears’

Ban Ki-moon opened a U.N. meeting on Europe's migration crisis with an appeal to keep borders open

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday opened a UN meeting on Europe's migration crisis with an appeal to keep borders open and combat xenophobia.

"The future does not belong to those who seek to build walls or exploit fears," Ban told the meeting of some 70 countries at UN headquarters.

Europe's handling of the crisis has come into focus amid an intense diplomatic debate over the way forward to end the war in Syria, which has driven four million people from their homes.

Ban spoke as Germany said it was considering stepping up checks on asylum claims while the Czech republic held police drills on its border with Austria as it mulled re-introducing border controls.

The UN chief outlined an eight-point plan that included managed migration to open up more safe and legal channels for refugees and migrants.

He also called for more burden-sharing by UN member states to resettle the refugees.

The United Nations is struggling to help some 60 million people displaced by conflicts worldwide, the highest number since the end of World War II.

Four million refugees have fled the war in Syria and hundreds of thousands of migrants have traveled to Europe to try to rebuild their lives.

On the eve of the meeting, the G7 group of leading economies, European countries and Gulf states pledged $1.8 billion in funding for UN agencies working to bring relief to refugees.