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Don’t link terrorists with real asylum-seekers, says UNHCR

20 November 2015


Ashore: a Syrian man kisses his daughter shortly after disembarking from a dinghy at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from the Turkish coast, on Monday. Greek authorities said that 1244 refugees and economic migrants had been rescued from frail craft in danger over the past three days in the Aegean Sea, as thousands continued to arrive on the Greek islands

Ashore: a Syrian man kisses his daughter shortly after disembarking from a dinghy at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Ae...

THE United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has said that it is “deeply concerned” by reports that one of the attackers involved in the Paris massacre may have entered Europe as a refugee.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that one of the attackers, Ahmad Al Mohammad, who died in a suicide bombing at the Stade de France, was found with a Syrian passport, which he used to cross the Greece border.

A spokesperson for UNHCR, Melissa Fleming, wrote on Tuesday: “Asylum and terrorism are not compatible with each other,” adding that the UN was urging states to erect “an effective reception, registration, and screening mechanism”.

Ms Fleming said that the UNHCR was also worried that some states were “backtracking from commitments” to addressing the crisis, or “proposing the erection of more barriers”.

“We are deeply disturbed by language that demonises refugees as a group,” she said. “The security problems Europe faces are highly complex. Refugees should not be turned into scapegoats, and must not become the secondary victims of these most tragic events.”

Concerns were raised this week after it emerged that about 100 Syrian refugees were due to come into the UK in the coming days. The first refugees are arriving on charter flights to Glasgow Airport from refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries bordering Syria, having fled the war-torn country.

Responding to the concerns on Tuesday, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that all refugees would be “thoroughly screened” to protect the country against a terror threat. Ms May said that the UK was operating “good levels of security”, which included a compulsory two-stage security screening process for all refugees.

“We always retain good checks at our borders in relation to people coming in.”

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