"Grim discovery" of 70 bodies in truck shows smuggler "ruthlessness": UNHCR

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Melissa Fleming. Photo: UNifeed

The discovery of up to 70 bodies inside a truck abandoned at the Austria-Hungary border underscores the "ruthlessness" of smuggler networks and the desperation of people fleeing conflict, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

UNHCR has reiterated its call for European governments to provide safe legal ways for asylum seekers to enter the continent.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed deep shock and sadness over what it described as the "grim discovery" in Austria on Thursday.

Austrian authorities believe the truck had entered the country from Hungary on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, and that the victims had been dead for one or two days.

UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming:

"This, we believe, underscores the ruthlessness of people smugglers who have expanded their business from the Mediterranean Sea to the highways of Europe. It shows they have absolutely no regard for human life and that they are only after profit. And it also shows the desperation of people seeking protection or a new life in Europe, and that their only means is to submit themselves to these criminals."

UNHCR expressed hope that the incident will lead to strong European and international cooperation and action to crack down on smugglers while also protecting victims.

The agency called on European countries to offer what it described as "safe legal avenues" for refugees and migrants seeking safety.

These measures include resettlement programmes, humanitarian admission programmes, easing visa restrictions and family reunification.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’18″

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