PRESEVO, Serbia (AP) — The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees warned on Tuesday against blaming refugees for terrorism after one of the Paris suicide bombers apparently came to Europe along with the thousands fleeing war and poverty.
Antonio Guterres urged united European action to create more legal forms of entry so refugees can undergo proper screening and security checks.
“It was not the refugee movement that created terrorism; it is terrorism together with tyranny, together with war, that created refugee movements,” Guterres said during a visit to a refugee camp in Serbia.
One suicide bomber who blew himself up outside the French national soccer stadium in Paris was found with a Syrian passport, and prosecutors say his fingerprints match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.
Serbian police have confirmed the same passport-holder passed through the camp in Presevo, near the border with Macedonia.
Guterres said “there was very probably one person that passed here that was part of the terrorist operation.” But, he added that “there’s every day 5,000 to 7,000 people here, women and children fleeing violence. … It would be totally unfair to blame refugees” for terrorist activities in the world.
Serbia lies on the so-called Balkan corridor that tens of thousands of people have used to enter Europe. The refugees are registered and their fingerprints are taken along the route as they are allowed through.
Guterres said there are groups trying to penetrate the migrant flow, but insisted the same applies for European society in general.
“It is essential to have more legal forms for refugees to come to Europe in order to have proper screening, proper identification, security checks, which are much more easy to do if things are done legally,” Guterres said.
He said this would mean creating “massive reception capacities at entry point” from where “people can be distributed orderly” to various countries.
“Let’s be very clear, we cannot blame the refugees,” he said. “Refugees are the first victims of terror.”