September 13th, 2017

UN High Commissioner for Refugees: protection of refugees not incompatible with security

The protection of refugees is not incompatible with guaranteeing security, the head of the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) told a press conference in Budapest. It is not only a right but a duty of every country to protect its borders and guarantee the security of its citizens, Filippo Grandi said after visiting the Hungarian-Serbian border area and holding talks with Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Interior Minister Sándor Pintér. These obligations are not in conflict with the moral obligation to provide help for refugees, he added. On the subject of his talks with Hungarian government officials, Grandi said he had urged them to ensure asylum seekers access to asylum procedures.

The high commissioner said he had expressed his concerns about a law prohibiting asylum seekers from leaving the transit zones set up on the border until their cases are ruled on and the fact that few asylum seekers are granted refugee status. It is understandable that Hungary is in a difficult position, the high commissioner said, arguing that Hungary was a transit country between the western Balkans and western Europe.

However, Hungary’s asylum regulations send a message of rejection, he added. On the subject of the EU’s migrant relocation quota scheme, Grandi said certain member states were right to want to share the burden of the migrant crisis, and called it regrettable that Hungary was opposed to taking part in it. Responding to a journalist question, Grandi said his office had requested a meeting with the Hungarian prime minister which however could not be scheduled due to the prime minister’s other commitments.

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