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UN Urges 'Comprehensive' Response to Migrant Crisis

Migrants wait to disembark from a tug boat in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, southern Italy, May 4, 2015.

The United Nations is calling on the European Union to shelter more migrants crossing the Mediterranean in pursuit of a better life in EU’s member countries.

Speaking at a joint press conference Tuesday with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged “European leaders to address this issue in a more comprehensive way and a collective way."

Any approach, the U.N. chief said, also should look at the "roots" of the problem in countries of origin. In addition, he called for further strengthening of the search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

In a statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Tuesday “the current migration crises in Europe and Southeast Asia” is alarming and “will not be resolved unless a far more comprehensive approach is adopted.”

Al Hussein said the human rights of the people who embark on a “desperate voyage out of fear and need” are of paramount concern and should become a top priority.

Under a new plan to resettle migrants in need of protection, the EU has planned to take 20,000 people. Although commending the effort, the International Organization for Migration [IOM] believes that Europe “needs to go much, much further.”

According to IOM estimates, more than 80,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to date, the largest number of whom are trying to escape armed conflicts and poverty in Middle East and North Africa.

More than 1,800 migrants have perished at sea or remain unaccounted for.

VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.