United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called Europe’s migrant and refugee situation a “crisis of global solidarity.”
Ban visited the Saint Egidio Community shelter in Rome Saturday, where he met with refugees and their children. Ban described their stories as heartbreaking, and added that he wanted to give them “a sense of hope.”
The U.N. leader also recognized the challenges that European Union countries are facing, but urged them to show “compassionate leadership” in hosting refugees escaping war, discrimination and hunger in their countries of origin.
In a statement released Saturday, human rights organization Amnesty International called on European Union leaders to put the rights of refugees above concerns to protect their borders.
Criticizing the European Union plan to offer aid to Turkey to contain the mass movement of asylum-seekers to Europe, Amnesty said that “people are dying while governments spend billions on border control.”
Amnesty’s statement comes one day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to visit Turkey and to present an aid package of about $3.4 billion to help the country host two million refugees, in addition to EU visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and expedited EU membership talks.
Meanwhile, Henriette Reker, an independent candidate running for mayor of the German city of Cologne, was stabbed in the neck and severely wounded Saturday in an incident that police said seemed to be motivated by her support for refugees.
The wave of asylum-seekers continued Saturday with busloads of migrants arriving for the first time to Slovenia from Croatia, after Hungary sealed its border with Croatia at midnight.
In yet another tragic event, the Turkish coast guard said Saturday that 12 migrants thought to be from Syria and Afghanistan, including four children and a baby, drowned off the coast of Turkey on their way to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The migrant crisis has already claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people this year while they were making the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean or Aegean for a better life in European Union countries.