Ban Ki-moon con­demns EU mi­grant curbs

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

VI­ENNA—UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon has crit­i­cised “in­creas­ingly re­stric­tive” poli­cies on mi­grants in Europe. In a speech to the Aus­trian par­lia­ment, he said such curbs ran counter to mem­ber coun­tries’ in­ter­na­tional du­ties.

He was speak­ing a day af­ter Aus­trian MPs ap­proved a draft law re­strict­ing asylum rights and al­low­ing most claims to be re­jected at the bor­der.

The Euro­pean Union, in­clud­ing Aus­tria, is strug­gling to cope with a huge in­flux of mainly Syr­ian mi­grants. More than a mil­lion peo­ple ar­rived in Europe last year spark­ing the worst refugee cri­sis on the con­ti­nent since World War Two, and cre­at­ing divi­sion in the EU over how to deal with it.

“I am con­cerned that Euro­pean coun­tries are now adopt­ing in­creas­ingly re­stric­tive im­mi­gra­tion and refugee poli­cies,” Mr Ban told MPs in Vi­enna.

“Such poli­cies neg­a­tively af­fect the obli­ga­tion of mem­ber states un­der in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law and Euro­pean law.” Mr Ban did not name any coun­try but, given the venue, the speech has been widely in­ter­preted as be­ing aimed at least in part at Aus­tria, cor­re­spon­dents say.

The coun­try’s new bill would al­low the gov­ern­ment to de­clare a “state of emer­gency” over mi­grants and to re­ject most asylum-seek­ers, in­clud­ing those from Syria.

It also lim­its any suc­cess­ful claim to asylum sta­tus to three years. In­te­rior Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Sobotka said Aus­tria had no other choice as long as “so many other EU mem­bers fail to do their part” to limit the in­flux.

The leg­is­la­tion, which now goes to the up­per house, has been con­demned by rights groups, in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and Hu­man Rights Watch.

Aus­tria has also pro­posed build­ing a 400m (1,300ft) fence at the main bor­der cross­ing with Italy, the Bren­ner Pass. Of­fi­cials said the move would de­pend on Italy’s will­ing­ness to co-op­er­ate. How­ever, the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment said clos­ing the Bren­ner Pass would go against Euro­pean law.

Many of the mi­grants at­tempt­ing to reach Ger­many and other north­ern EU coun­tries go via the West­ern Balkans. Hun­gary first tried to block their route with a fence. Other coun­tries, such as Slove­nia and Bul­garia, have erected sim­i­lar ob­sta­cles.

Mace­do­nia has de­cided only to al­low Syr­ian and Iraqi mi­grants across its fron­tiers.

As a re­sult, thou­sands of mi­grants have been stranded in makeshift camps in Greece. Mean­while Italy has an­nounced it is to start fin­ger­print­ing mi­grants cross­ing the Mediter­ranean as soon as they are picked up by res­cue boats.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has pressed Italy to reg­is­ter mi­grants as they ar­rive, and to carry out sys­tem­atic checks of fin­ger­prints against a EU-wide data­base.—Agen­cies

Mr Boehner, a fel­low Repub­li­can, has also re­port­edly said he will not vote for Mr Cruz if he be­comes the nom­i­nee.

Their rift dates back to when Mr Cruz led a group of hard-core con­ser­va­tives to force a gov­ern­ment shut­down in 2013, against his party’s lead­er­ship. Mean­while, Mr Boehner has de­scribed Don­ald Trump as a “tex­ting buddy”.

He also said they have played golf to­gether for years and that he would vote for the bil­lion­aire if he were the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, the Stan­ford Daily re­ported.—Agen­cies

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