Europeans would understand plight of refugees if only they could meet them, UN chief says

Europeans would want to help desperate migrants if they could see the harrowing experiences they suffer to arrive here, a senior United Nations official has said.

Philippe Douste-Blazy, UN under-secretary general who is the organisation's special adviser for development, recently returned from a fact-finding mission to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

On his first trip out with Italian coastguards, he found himself staring into the hold of a smugglers' boat with more than 50 dead migrants on board, including babies.

Philippe Douste-Blazy (Picture: Getty)

People need to see the full horror of what's going on, and how desperate these refugees and migrants are. Then I am sure they will want to help. The talk from politicians is of invasion, mass migration.

But, you know, these populists should be careful; the people of Europe are more decent and humane than they think, and they will not like being used for political ends.

  • Philippe Douste-Blazy, speaking to the i paper on Tuesday
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