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UN chief asked developed countries to shelter more refugees
Last Updated: 2017-06-21 08:11 | Xinhua
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses a press conference on the occasion of World Refugee Day, at the UN headquarters in New York, June 20, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday asked developed countries to provide shelter for more refugees and to share the responsibility with developing countries that are hosting 80 percent of the world refugees.

"I ask countries in the developed world to increase their resettlement quotas at least to the levels that we had two or three years ago, to be able to offer an effective responsibility-sharing with those that are hosting millions of refugees in the deep South," said Guterres.

Tuesday marks the World Refugee Day. Guterres reminded countries that refugee protection is an obligation under international law as more borders have been closed worldwide and more refugees have been rejected.

UN statistics show that the global refugee population hit its highest level for two decades standing at 22.5 million at the end of 2016. The largest group of refugees was made up of the 5.5 million Syrians forced to flee.

"It is important to say that refugee protection is not a matter of solidarity or generosity. Refugee protection is an obligation under international law," said Guterres.

Therefore, he called on member states not to refuse entry to the refugees who are seeking asylum and manage their borders in a "protection-sensitive" way.

Guterres made the remarks at his first press conference since assuming the office as UN secretary-general on Jan. 1, 2017. He served as UN high commissioner for refugees for 10 years.

Noting that the United States has a very important role in refugee resettlement, Guterres encouraged the U.S. government "to come back to the levels of resettlement that we witnessed until two or three years ago."

Apart from rejecting refugees, Guterres also voiced concerns over U.S. withdrawing from the Paris climate deal and its proposed cuts in funding commitments to the UN.

Guterres said that the proposed budget plan of the Trump administration would create "an unsolvable problem" to the UN and he will soon travel to Washington to meet members of Congress to discuss the issue.

"I believe that, if the United States disengage in relation to many aspects of foreign policy and many aspects of international relations, it will be unavoidable that other actors will occupy that space," said Guterres.

"And I don't think this is good for the United States, and I don't think this is good for the world," he added.

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