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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on border restrictions along the Balkan land route

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New York, 26 February 2016

The Secretary-General is following with great concern the increasing number of border restrictions along the Balkan land route, including in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Such border restrictions are not in line with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol because individual determination of refugee status and assessment of individual protection needs are not made possible.

The Secretary-General notes that the number of asylum seekers entering Greece from Turkey continues unabated, and that the border closures are creating a difficult situation in Greece. Meanwhile, Turkey is already hosting in excess of 2.6 million refugees and asylum seekers.

The Secretary-General is fully aware of the pressures felt by many European countries. However, he calls on all countries to keep their borders open, and to act in a spirit of responsibility sharing and solidarity, including through expanding legal pathways to access asylum.

The Secretary-General recalls that the vast majority of refugees are hosted by developing countries. There is a real need for responsibility sharing at the global level. This will be one of the key issues in the General Assembly's Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants, to be held on 19 September in New York.