The new UN rights chief decried Wednesday a British minister’s comments that England was facing an “invasion” of asylum seekers as “horrible”, warning against the dangers of dehumanising migrants.
UK interior minister Suella Braverman sparked outrage this week when she described the record numbers of people seeking asylum in the country as an “invasion”.
Volker Turk, who became UN High Commissioner for Human Rights two weeks ago, said such terms were not appropriate.
“Invasion: horrible word,” the Austrian national told reporters during his first press conference as UN rights chief.
“I’m glad that there is a strong reaction in Britain to that use of the word.”
“It absolutely is the problem that we often see,” he said, pointing to his time working as the second in command at the UN refugee agency during the 2015-2016 migration crisis in Europe.
“The types of words and dehumanising language that I have heard from European politicians during that period is harrowing,” he said, voicing concern such language was again on the rise.
“We will really have to work very strongly (so) that it doesn’t poison … issues that are about human beings.”