Geneva, Oct 5

Armies around the globe have killed refugees and driven them back across borders while governments who try to shun them also are violating international refugee law and imperilling those fleeing for their lives, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Such human rights breaches are "wide-ranging and occur in all parts of the world", the leading expert on international protection told a meeting of the UN refugee agency UNCHR's executive committee here.

"Terrified families have been deported in the middle of the night, often with the connivance of security agents from the countries of origin," said UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Turk.

There has also been a surge in serious incidents involving the forced return of refugees, he told representatives of the 151 states that make up UNHR's executive committee.

Turk criticised countries that refuse to take in asylum-seekers, purportedly to protect the security and national identity of their citizens, calling such populist government policies "dangerous".

Another major worry is a growing tendency for governments to deter migrants, measures which have sometimes become "deliberate policies of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment directed against the very people who were fleeing such circumstances in the first place", he said.

"There is no justification to keep families apart, or to keep refugees in limbo, or to keep them languishing in substandard detention sites off-shore, in inappropriate reception facilities, or confined to border areas."
"A refugee is a refugee," Turk said, noting the growing number of vulnerable child refugees, who make up more than half the world's 22.5 million refugees and are often unaccompanied.

 

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