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Target people smugglers - UN chief

Published 25/05/2015

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon made a keynote speech in Dublin
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon made a keynote speech in Dublin

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has called for a crackdown on people smugglers.

In a keynote speech in Dublin as he marked Ireland's 60 years in the global organisation, the diplomat said Europe needs migrants to maintain its dynamism.

He called for the response to the crisis in the Mediterranean, the Andaman Sea in Asia and in Syria to go beyond reacting to emergencies to looking at the root causes.

Mr Ban said Ireland can bring its own knowledge and empathy of migration to today's landscape.

"One priority must be to save lives, including through ample search-and-rescue operations," he said.

"Our approach must be comprehensive, focusing on the full continuum - countries of destination, transit and, above all, origin.

"We need to crack down on smugglers while protecting refugees and upholding human rights and international law. We need to go beyond the emergencies to get at the roots."

The UN chief said that while migrants are fleeing war, poverty, deprivation and under-development, Europe must recognise that it needs workers.

"Europe is experiencing low population growth and demographic transition to an ageing population. If Europe is to retain its economic dynamism, Europe needs migrants."

Earlier in the day Mr Ban met resettled migrants from Syria and Congo at an event in Farmleigh where he spoke about his early years fleeing war in Korea.

He added: "Ireland has also resettled people from many countries. I urge the countries of the European Union to shoulder more of their resettlement responsibilities, and to align Europe's actions with its values."

Mr Ban called for more work to tackle what he said was a "worrisome increase in stigma and discrimination against migrants, and to highlight the benefits of migration themselves and the countries that receive them".

Mr Ban also highlighted Ireland's role on the international stage tackling world hunger.

But he said the country should align its work in that area with promoting the agenda of climate change.

"Addressing climate change has been seen as also antithetical to economic growth. Today we know that is a false choice. Putting our economies on a low-carbon pathway will create new markets, provide energy security and improve our health," he said.

"Again, the moral case for climate action is just as clear. The world's poorest and most vulnerable countries are the first to be impacted and the most impacted because they don't have any capacity to mitigate and adapt."

The UN chief will hold talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny tomorrow.

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