The impact of war and poverty in the world is manifesting itself in the refugee crisis in Europe, President Jacob Zuma said.
“The world has witnesses the horrific and deadly journeys by African and Middle Eastern immigrants across the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe,” Zuma said on Tuesday.
“The pain, human tragedy of over four million Syrian refugees has also reminded us of the need to find a lasting solution which is to stop the war in Syria.”
Zuma was addressing media, diplomats, ambassadors and high commissioners based in South Africa at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guest house in Pretoria.
He said it took the “painful drowning” of a young Syrian child to shake the world into action, with attempts by European countries to shut their borders not helping the situation.
The only way to achieve peace in Syria was for the international community to reject calls for regime change in Syria.
“The international community must not support external military interference or any action in Syria that is not in line of the charter of the United Nations,” Zuma said.
“Support for non-state actors and terrorist organisations that seek to effect a regime change in Syria is unacceptable.”
He called for immediate relief of refugees, with South Africa’s European partners as well as Syria’s regional neighbours to assist those fleeing Syria in full accordance and compliance with all human rights and humanitarian laws.
“We pledged our support to the EU as it grapples with this challenging situation,” Zuma said.
“These are all issues that put enormous pressure on the UN Security Council to find solutions as we move towards the 70th anniversary next week.”
On Tuesday evening, the BBC reported hundreds of migrants were stranded at the Serbia-Hungary border after the Hungarian government closed the frontier with a new razor-wire fence.
The move aimed to stop migrants who are trying to enter the EU.
According to the EU’s border agency, more than 500 000 migrants have arrived at the EU’s borders this year, compared with 280 000 in 2014, the British broadcaster reported. News24