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BERLIN – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged governments around the world to let in more people from Syria and "counter fear-mongering" about refugees.
Ban spoke at a one-day conference in Geneva meant to further efforts to resettle Syrian refugees. The U.N. refugee agency wants to find places abroad over the next three years for one-tenth of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees who are crowded into countries in the surrounding region.
"I ask that countries act with solidarity, in the name of our shared humanity, by pledging new and additional pathways for the admission of Syrian refugees," Ban told the gathering of officials from over 90 countries. "These pathways can include resettlement or humanitarian admission, family reunions, as well as labor or study opportunities."
The conference heard appeals for solidarity from the countries surrounding Syria. Turkey, which hosts some 2.7 million Syrians, said the UNHCR's target of resettling 10 percent of the refugees in the region is a good start but not enough.
To date, 179,000 places have been pledged, according to Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
Ban said countries can benefit from accepting refugees as they can bring new skills and experience to aging workforces.
"Attempts to demonize them are not only offensive; they are factually incorrect," he said. "I call on leaders to counter fear-mongering with reassurance, and to fight inaccurate information with the truth."