Ban praises Slovakia and Austria for 'taking care of so many refugees'
While visiting a humanitarian centre in Slovakia today where refugees have been accommodated by the Government, United Nations Secretary-General urged all leaders to show their “global solidarity and compassionate leadership.”
“I really appreciate the Slovak Government for establishing this emergency transit centre,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Gabcíkovo, a municipality situated on the border with Hungary.
He thanked the governments of Slovakia and Austria “for their very kind and warm hearts taking care of so many refugees who are voiceless and defenceless and helpless at this time,” adding that the migrant and refugee issues have become a global challenge.
“I know that each and every country has very serious political, economic, social challenges in accommodating these people but at the same time they should know that they are people who are fleeing war and persecution and very difficult hardship which they can never bear themselves,” Mr. Ban continued.
While highlighting that the current crisis may be a huge challenge in terms of numbers – with tens of thousands of people “rushing to the European continent” – the UN chief said he believes that it is not simply a “crisis of number,” but rather a “crisis of global solidarity.”
He noted that European leaders have been working “very seriously and closely” with plans to meet in the middle of November in Valletta, Malta, to discuss the matter.
“Again, I am urging all the leaders of concerned countries to show their leadership and warm hearts for those people,” he stressed. “Let us work together so that they will be able to return to their country one day, wherever they may be coming from.”
He reiterated that he is grateful for the Austrian Government “for not blocking any refugees [but] instead showing great flexibility so that they can freely transit to wherever their destination may be.”
Mr. Ban concluded that as far as the United Nations is concerned, the number one priority is protecting human lives and providing life-saving support.