United Nations cautions against 'dangerous' anti-refugee sentiment

United Nations cautions against 'dangerous' anti-refugee sentiment
The UN's refugee agency head Filipo Grandi warned on Saturday against a rise in anti-refugee attitude following the suicide attack in Istanbul during a visit to Turkey.
2 min read
17 January, 2016
UNHCR's Filippo Grandi visits a refugee camp on Turkish Syria border [Anadolu]
Increasing fear of refugees could become "dangerous" said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filipo Grandi on Saturday following a recent suicide attack in Istanbul that killed 10 tourists last week.

Grandi's comments follow revelations that the suicide bomber who killed ten German tourists in a popular square outside Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul had fought with Islamic State militants before registering as a refugee in Turkey.

"What would be dangerous would be to generalise and to say that because one or two refugees, or even ten, have done something wrong... all refugees are terrorists or criminals. The overwhelming majority are not," Grandi said at a news conference alongside Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Anti-refugee sentiment has become an increasing concern in recent weeks following events in Germany including far-right protests and polls indicating the German public are less willing to accept asylum seekers after events in Cologne.

Turkey currently hosts more than 2 million Syrian refugees yet, despite occasional flashpoints, has not seen any significant anti-refugee outbreak.

Grandi also promised that the UNHCR will seek additional resources to assist the Turkish government in handling the refugees.

"We will do whatever we can to help the Turkish government find additional resources for people who are living here under temporary protection to make their lives as good as we can," he said.

"We will work on other aspects as well ... We will work on more resettlement opportunities," Grandi added.

Grandi began his five-year term as UN High Commissioner for Refugees in January.

The visit to refugee camps near the Syrian border in Turkey was his first as a commissioner for the UN.

"I am glad that I started from here. It gives me both a sense of the despair but also of the hope and possibility of better times, if the politics turn in the right direction," Grandi said.

South-eastern Turkey is home to 2.2 million Syrian refugees, 220,000 of them in camps.

Turkey itself has welcomed 2.5 million refugees over the past years including tens of thousands from Iraq.

With the Syrian war set to enter its sixth year, at least 55,000 people were killed in Syria last year, including over 2,500 children.