Statement by the UN Secretary-General on Refugees, New York, 31 January 2017

Refugees fleeing conflict and persecution are entitled to protection, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today, expressing concern at decisions around the world that have undermined the integrity of the international refugee protection regime.

On my way back from Ethiopia, the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa that for decades has been keeping its borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbors, many times in dramatic security situations, I want to state the following:

     – Countries have the right, even the obligation, to responsibly manage their borders to avoid infiltration by members of terrorist organizations.· This cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality because:

      – that is against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based; – that triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organizations we all want to fight against; –  blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements.· I am also particularly concerned by the decisions that around the world have been undermining the integrity of the international refugee protection regime. Refugees fleeing conflict and persecution are finding more and more borders closed and increasingly restricted access to the protection they need and are entitled to receive, according to international refugee law.