UN: 'Migration should be an option not a need'
UN refugee agency calls on governments to help growing numbers of people risking death at sea while seeking asylum

"Migration should be an option not a need," said the UN refugee chief on Thursday, as a record number of people take risky sea journeys in search of asylum.

At least 348,000 people have made dangerous and illegal sea voyages this year in an attempt to migrate or seek asylum. Of these, 4,272 have been reported dead, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said on Wednesday.

"Protection at sea starts with protection on land," High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

"The world is devoting more resources and capacity to drug trafficking than to the trafficking of human beings, and this needs to change," he added.

The agency said on Wednesday that some governments were increasingly trying to keep foreigners out, as opposed to upholding asylum in an era when record numbers of people are fleeing conflict zones.

Guterres said that it was a mistake to stop people who were fleeing for their lives.

The refugee agency called on governments to focus on saving lives, and to take action to help refugees.

With conflicts in Libya, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, Europe is the main destination of migrants travelling by sea.

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Last Modified: 2014-12-12 10:32:38
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