Rouhani: Europe Has ‘Historic Duty’ to Help Migrants

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that European countries have a "humanitarian and historic duty" to do more to shelter migrants arriving at its borders.

"The world, especially Europe, has a humanitarian and historic duty to (…) help these displaced and stranded people," Rouhani said, quoted on his website.

Europe has been facing an unprecedented influx this summer of people seeking refuge, many of them from war-torn Syria but also from Africa.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said Saturday that 366,402 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, with 2,800 killed or missing en route.

"We are glad some European countries have taken positive measures to save the displaced immigrants and we hope that other EU countries would join this trend," said Rouhani.

Rouhani, speaking as he received Hungary's new ambassador, Janos Kuac, said Iran hosts more migrants from neighboring countries, mostly Afghanistan and Iraq, than any other state in the region.

"All the problems … stem from the threat of radical groups and terrorists that have caused fear and displacement among innocent people in the region," he said.

Hungary is a key point of entry to the EU for migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Asia trekking up through the Balkans to western Europe after crossing the Mediterranean to Greece.

Some 50,000 migrants entered Hungary last month via the western Balkans. Hungary has responded with tough new anti-immigration measures.

The country’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has said Hungary did not want more Muslim migrants and warned Europe would lose its Christian identity.

Reports emerged last week that, due to the tidal wave of migration from the Middle East and North Africa, Bulgaria and Hungary were looking into the possibility of putting up Israeli steel security fences along parts of their borders.

Hungary and Bulgaria have made preliminary inquiries about buying Israeli-designed fences, like the ones along Israel's barrier with Egypt, according to an Israeli business source who declined to be named.

Many of the migrants are refugees seek to pass through the eastern European counties to richer countries further north and west, particularly Germany.

AFP contributed to this report.


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