“Regular pathways to Europe and elsewhere are important for allowing refugees to reach safety without putting their lives in the hands of smugglers and making dangerous sea crossings,” Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said.
More than 80,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by sea during the first six weeks of 2016, she added, and more than 400 had died in the attempt during the same period.
While recognizing the challenges facing Europe, Fleming said governments should consider the “possible damaging impact of individual measures and practices on the rights and lives of refugees.”
She highlighted measures put in place since the start of the year that have restricting refugee entry, specifically referring to Denmark’s decision to only allow refugees’ families to join them after three years’ residence in the country.
The spokeswoman said “quick and thorough support mechanisms” were needed to integrate refugees.
“Increasing acts of violence and prejudice have jeopardized the safety and well-being of refugees and asylum seekers across Europe,” she added. “Fueled by xenophobia and propaganda campaigns based on fear, refugee families, homes and places of worship are being targeted."
Of more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration.