Migrant deaths: UN Secretary-General appeals for European governments to act

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Ban Ki-moon says governments must step up response to migrant crisis.Ban Ki-moon calls for action on migrant crisisUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed Friday to governments to step up their response to Europe’s migrant crisis following more drownings at sea and the discovery of migrant bodies in an abandoned truck in Austria.

Ban praised leaders and communities who were taking action to cope with the flow of migrants, but added: “Much more is required.”

“I appeal to all governments involved to provide comprehensive responses, expand safe and legal channels of migration and act with humanity, compassion and in accordance with their international obligations,” he said.

The UN chief said he was “horrified and heartbroken” by the loss of lives in the Mediterranean and the grim discovery of more than 70 bodies crammed inside a truck that was abandoned near the Austrian border with Hungary.A coffin is rolled onto a truck at a customs building with refrigeration facilities in the village of Nickelsdorf, Austria, August 28, 2015.A coffin is rolled onto a truck at a customs building with refrigeration facilities in the village of Nickelsdorf, Austria  Photo: Reuters

Indications are that many of the victims were Syrian refugees, including children.

Rescuers pulled 76 bodies from the Mediterranean after two boats carrying 500 migrants sank, the latest tragedy in a series at sea.MSF boat arrives PalermoThe Doctors Without Borders (MSF) ship arrives at the port of Palermo carrying the bodies of four women and one man who died of dehydration as well as 529 asylum seekers rescued from unseaworthy vessels off the Libyan coast  Photo: Rex

More than 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, a large increase from last year, the UN refugee agency said.

“The Mediterranean Sea continues to be a death trap for refugees and migrants,” said Ban in a statement.

The UN chief announced plans to convene a special meeting on September 30, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, to discuss global concerns about migration.

“This is a human tragedy that requires a determined collective political response. It is a crisis of solidarity, not a crisis of numbers,” he said.

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