UNHCR calls for mechanism to share migrant burden

United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi attends a press conference on September 10, 2018 in Geneva after his UNHCR/OCHA joint mission visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan. (AFP)
Updated 15 September 2018
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UNHCR calls for mechanism to share migrant burden

  • Between 80 and 90 percent of the estimated 68 million refugees globally according to UNHCR figures were “in poor countries or have few resources

ROME: Outgoing UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi has appealed for the creation of a clear mechanism for European states to share the burden of migrants rescued at sea rather than work on a case by case basis.
Those arriving “must be shared around Europe. There must be a foreseeable mechanism. We cannot deal on a boat-by-boat basis,” the UN refugee chief told a news conference after two days of talks with authorities in his native Italy.
Italy has closed its ports to NGOs rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean and has been increasingly reluctant to take in those brought to shore in its own vessels, making reception conditional on those brought to shore being offloaded to other EU states.
“We are not talking about incredible figures — if Libya can deal with a million refugees then Europe can manage a few tens of thousands,” Grandi said.
He added that between 80 and 90 percent of the estimated 68 million refugees globally according to UNHCR figures were “in poor countries or have few resources.”
Grandi added that Europe faced a “long battle” in reaching common ground on how to deal with the migrant issue but should cooperate in so far as possible and use the expected drop in numbers over the winter to draw up a coherent strategy.
In the meantime he added that the priority should be ensuring migrants reached the “nearest safe port.”
That could not, he stressed, be Libya given that conditions in some reception camps there were “abominable, unacceptable.”
Grandi said he was also concerned at the lack of rescue boats of Libya, be they humanitarian or military which meant not just less people brought ashore but also “more deaths.”
Grandi further warned against politicians using intemperate language when discussing the migrant issue, urging that “the language of politics must not a create a space for abuse and violence of a racist character.”
On Monday, new UN rights head Michelle Bachelet announced a new team would be heading to Italy to monitor “a signalled strong increase” in racist violence, something which Italy’s far right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini denied.
Salvini said that Italy had in recent years accepted 700,000 immigrants, “including many illegals, and never got any help from other European countries.”


Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2016, Andy Chan (R), leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), gives a press conference at the start of a rally near the government's headquarters in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

  • The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover

HONG KONG: Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday took an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds.
John Lee, the territory’s secretary for security, announced that the Hong Kong National Party will be prohibited from operation from Monday.
Lee’s announcement did not provide further details. But Hong Kong’s security bureau had previously said in a letter to the National Party’s leader, 27-year-old Andy Chan, that the party should be dissolved “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Chan had no immediate comment.
That letter had cited a national security law that has not been invoked since 1997. The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover. Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials have warned separatist activity would not be tolerated.
Chan, the National Party leader, had previously told The Associated Press that police approached him with documents detailing his speeches and activities since the party’s formation in 2016.
The party was founded in response to frustration about Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong. Despite a promise of autonomy, activists complain mainland influence over its democratic elections is increasing.
Chan and other pro-independence candidates were disqualified from 2016 elections to the Hong Kong legislature after they refused to sign a pledge saying Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. The Hong Kong National Party has never held any seats on the council.