U.N. says refugee crisis cannot be solved by 'closing the door'

Migrants sit at the Austrian-Hungarian border station of Hegyeshalom, Hungary, September 5, 2015. (Reuters)

A U.N. human rights official says the refugee and migrant crisis can't be solved "just by closing the door" and declaring war on smugglers and traffickers.

"Those desperate people will go through windows if you close the doors," the assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, told reporters at U.N. headquarters.

He says ending the crisis requires addressing the root causes — conflicts, human rights challenges and economic despair — that lead people to flee.

Simonovic says 86 percent of refugees are in developing countries, with the highest numbers in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Kenya. The countries are so "saturated" that Europe "sees them at their doorstep."

He isn't opposed to going after smugglers, but he warns that arresting them will raise the risks for refugees and the prices they will have to pay to reach Europe.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46