UN, rights groups criticise Hungary's anti-migrant stance

21st December 2015, Comments 0 comments

The UN refugee agency and human rights groups urged Hungary on Monday to end policies that promote "intolerance and hatred" of migrants as Europe struggles to cope with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

In a joint statement, UNHCR, the Council of Europe and the OSCE's office of human rights called on Hungary's leaders to help "those who have been forced out of their countries against their own will and choice and are currently seeking safety in Europe".

They criticised a public campaign launched by the Hungarian government this month that they said portrayed refugees, most of them coming from war-torn Syria, as "criminals, invaders and terrorists based on their religious beliefs and places of origin".

The campaign has seen full-page messages in national newspapers appear with the headline: "The quota increases the terror threat!" against a black background.

Other messages read: "An illegal immigrant arrives in Europe on average every 12 seconds"; "We don't know who they are, or what their intentions are"; and "We don't know how many hidden terrorists are among them".

Hungary has taken a hardline stance on the refugee crisis, sealing off its southern borders with a barbed wire fence to stop the influx of migrants. It has also opposed European Union plans for quotas to distribute 160,000 refugees throughout the bloc.

Hungary needs to contribute to resolving the crisis and "acknowledge that refugees are coming to Europe, after having endured trauma, tragedy and loss... to start a new life far from the upheavals of war and conflict," the organisations said.

Since January nearly 970,000 refugees and migrants have flooded Europe, with most of them passing through Greece and its Aegean islands, according to UNHCR.

© 2015 AFP

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