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Fight Against Terrorism Mustn't Infringe Asylum

UN’S Top Refugee Official Says Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Infringe On Asylum

New York, Oct 3 2005

The international community should join forces to fight intolerance, preserve the rights of people fleeing conflict, and help the more than 25 million internally displaced peoples (IDPs) around the world rebuild their lives without fear, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres said today in Geneva.

“Preserving asylum means challenging the notion that refugees and asylum-seekers are the agents of insecurity or terrorism rather than its victims,” he said at the opening of the UNHCR Executive Committee. Calling on all nations to make a better distinction at their borders between those fleeing insecurity and terrorists, Mr. Guterres also blamed politicians using intolerance to seek public office and the media for breeding an atmosphere of fear and prejudice.

“Terrorism must be fought with total determination,” he acknowledged, “but asylum is and must remain a central tenet of democracy.” In noting that “roughly half of all post-conflict situations slide back into violence within five years,” Mr. Guterres stressed that nations must work harder to develop long-term assistance after a destabilizing political displacement.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland is leading the collaborative effort to address internal displacement, and will be taking part in a special panel on the topic during today’s session. On Thursday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will also be addressing the Executive Committee at the meeting, which is held once a year for the 68-member governing body.


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