ISTANBUL (AA) - The head of the International Organization for Migration has said refugees and migrants would always find new ways to reach Europe, even if the Aegean Sea or the Balkan routes are closed, because the people involved are desperate.
In remarks made to Anadolu Agency Tuesday during the recently-concluded World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, William Lacy Swing said: "They are fleeing conflict, they are fleeing poverty or terrorism and they feel that they have somehow to get their families to a new life so they will always find a new route."
Swing reminded that almost 5,000 people had lost their lives while they strived for a new life. "It is almost 1,700 people this year and that needs to stop," he said.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of people made short but perilous journeys in bids to reach Northern and Western Europe in search for a better life.
More than 191,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Greece and Italy since the beginning of 2016, according to the organization.
Swing also said the International Organization for Migration had been an enthusiastic supporter of the World Humanitarian Summit. "The reason we are here is there [are now] many humanitarian emergencies than any other time in recorded history.”
Indicating that humanitarians were overwhelmed and under-resourced, he said: "We thought it [the summit] would be a good occasion to come up with political solutions."
The summit comes as the Syrian civil war enters its sixth year, Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and global social inequality has reached a peak.
During the summit, attended by 125 of the UN’s 193 member states, at least 50 heads of government announced commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.
These included preventing and ending conflict; respecting the rules of war; addressing forced displacement; addressing gender inequality; responding to climate change; ending the need for aid; and investing in humanity.