UN urges global response to humanitarian crisis

UN urges global response to humanitarian crisis

UN Special Representative for Migration and Development Peter Sutherland says geographical proximity to a crisis should not determine who takes in refugees.



As the Australian government announces a boost to its refugee intake, several South American countries have also stepped forward offering help.


“Serbia! Serbia! I go Serbia! No! No!”


A woman with her two children in tow faces a line of police officers.


Tensions on Hungary’s border with Serbia are boiling over as hundreds of Syrian migrants try to storm through police roadblocks.


In many cases, authorities have used tear gas and pepper spray on the crowds.


Those rounded up are taken to Hungarian collection camps, where most say their treatment has been appalling.


“This is not a way to treat refugees. What’s our fault that our country has war? What’s our fault? I’m not happy to leave my home and to come here to be treated like an animal. We’ve been here for two days, and the Hungarian government only brings one bus? We’re asking to go back to Serbia, and they are not giving us this right. We’re asking to go to Budapest, and they are not giving us this right. Why? Why? Macedonia helped us. Greece helped us.”


The latest figures from the United Nations show four million Syrians have now fled their homeland.


This year alone, nearly 3,000 have been killed or gone missing while making the treacherous journey to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.


United Nations Special Representative for Migration and Development Peter Sutherland has criticised Europe for not collectively finding a more effective response.


He says some countries are taking more people than others and that is both unfair and unacceptable.


“We should have a European response as part of a global response. And if we aren’t joined up in this, it will fail to ameliorate a position which is not going away, as everyone knows, but which can be greatly improved. We need structures.”


Close to 260,000 people have landed in Greece.


On the island of Lesbos, the United Nations has stepped in to help process around 20,000.


They say they have been waiting in scorching conditions with virtually no resources.


“We are waiting here for .. since 12 hours. And there’s nothing happening. And we are waiting just to get out of Greece.”

“We are waiting for five or six days to take the paper to book a ticket from the port to go to Athena.”


The United Nations is now calling for an international conference to ask every country how it will help.


Recently, refugee advocates have accused the United States of not doing enough to deal with the crisis.


But White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the Obama administration is considering additional measures to help countries like Turkey and Jordan, now bearing the brunt of it.


“You know the United States, and the way that we play a leading role in confronting so many other thorny and difficult problems, is prepared to continue to play a leading role in trying to assist those organisations that are trying to meet the needs, and basic humanitarian needs, of these individuals.”


Meanwhile, at least three South American countries say they are willing to accept refugees.


In Brazil, refugee visas can take up to three years to process, but it has policies in place for Syrians to get one in just six months.


In a nationally televised address, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said her country could not ignore Europe’s humanitarian crisis.


“Brazil is a nation that was formed by many diverse peoples who live together here in peace. And even in moments of crisis, as we’re experiencing now, we will open our arms to take in refugees.”


Chile says it is willing to take in what it call lÿs a significant number of refugees.


But Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has gone one step further.


“I am announcing that I want 20,000 Syrians to come to our Venezuelan fatherland to share this land of peace and to help with its development.”


President Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, had both expressed support for Syrian president Bashar al- Assad.


They have labelled the Syrian conflict a Western imperialist plot.


Now, more than four years after it began, its effects are being felt across the world.