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Rights of minorities and migrants are under attack, UN chief says

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
GENEVA
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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers his statement during the opening of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers his statement during the opening of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo)

The human rights of minorities and migrants are being attacked by populists and by governments that shirk their responsibilities to protect refugees, UN chief Antonio Guterres said Monday at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"We are increasingly seeing the perverse phenomena of populism and extremism," resulting in growing racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, the UN secretary general said as he opened the council's annual spring session.

The United Nation's top human rights body is meeting amid US efforts to limit immigration from Muslim-majority countries and to expel undocumented migrants, and one year after European countries took steps to curb the inflow of Middle Eastern refugees.

"The rights of refugees and migrants are under attack," said Guterres, who previously served as the UN refugee chief.

The discussion should not be about the sharing of burdens among refugee host countries, but about sharing of responsibilities under the UN charter, Guterres said.

However, the 47 countries on the UN rights body will mainly focus on hotspots such as Syria, Myanmar or Burundi during its four-week meeting, rather than on the bigger trends outlined by Guterres.

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