UN chief calls for more support for refugees and host communities

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A group of Gambian boys survey the ocean from the beach during an outing from a Government reception centre that doubles as a lodging station for unaccompanied minors in Pozzallo, Sicily, on May 17, 2016. Photo: UNICEF/UN020035/Gilbertson VII Photo

Europeans have been urged by the UN Secretary-General to remain committed to the ideals of solidarity and diversity.

Ban Ki-moon made the appeal in Brussels on Tuesday, during a joint press conference alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

He also called for more joint action to better protect people seeking refuge on the continent.

Matthew Wells reports.

The UN Secretary-General recalled the 22 March terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital which killed 32 people.

At the time, he had expressed hope that Europe's commitment to human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence would overcome hatred and violence.

Mr Ban urged people in Belgium and across Europe to remain committed to the ideals of solidarity and diversity.

Leaders and communities must be steadfast in opposing xenophobia, discrimination and violence, he added.

 "I commend President Juncker's leadership in our efforts to forge a common European and global response to the large movements of refugees and migrants. I appreciate all efforts to ensure greater responsibility sharing among European States. We also need to support communities to be able to host the large number of arrivals. I remain deeply distressed at the high number of deaths in the Mediterranean. We must also work together to address the root causes of displacement and ensure better protection."

Mr Ban also expressed thanks for what he called "the exemplary cooperation" between the UN and the European Union in working to bring about a peaceful settlement for the divided island of Cyprus.

He also praised EU countries for their support of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

 Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'22"

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