Canada and United States not facing asylum seeker crisis: UNHCR official

Posted
November 8, 2018
Article Source
CTV News

Neither Canada nor the United States is experiencing a crisis in asylum claims, says the United Nations' assistant high commissioner for refugees.

Volker Turk, an Austrian in charge of refugee protection for the UN, was in Ottawa this week to meet with Canadian border officials. He said in an interview that Canada's recent spike in irregular migrants is nothing compared to the millions of refugees who pour every year into much poorer countries.

Likewise, the migrant caravan making its way through Mexico toward the United States, numbering in the low thousands of people, is small compared to the vast migrations borne in recent years by countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which have taken in over five million Syrian refugees.

"A lot of the media debate that we often see is that there are hordes of people coming to the industrialized world -- that's absolutely not true," Turk said.

North America has largely been shielded from the true global crisis of 68.5 million displaced persons in the world fleeing war and conflict, he said.

"I think it's important to put everything in perspective and to bear in mind that when people talk about a 'crisis' these days, these crises are far away from North America or from Europe, they are taking place often in the poorest countries in the world who need our support, need our solidarity and who need also our humanity."

Political rhetoric whipping up public concern over the asylum-seekers has been rising in recent weeks, led by politicians in both Canada and the United States.

In Canada, the federal Conservatives regularly refer to the influx of tens of thousands of asylum seekers crossing "irregularly" into Canada via non-official entry points from the U.S. as a border crisis and have used the issue to galvanize their base and criticize the Liberal government.

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