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UN's Ban: Detention Is No Answer to Europe's Refugee Crisis

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets a child during his visit at the municipality-run refugee camp of Kara Tepe on the island of Lesbos, Greece, June 18, 2016.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that detention is not the answer to Europe's refugee crisis and should end immediately.

Ban, meeting with refugees from war, terrorism and poverty on the Greek island of Lesbos, called on other European countries to respond to the crisis with a "humane and human rights-based approach."

"Let us work together to resettle more people, provide legal pathways and better integrate refugees," he said. "I recognize the difficulties. But the world has the wealth, the capacity and the duty to meet this challenge."

After meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier in the day, Ban thanked the Greek people for what he called their "remarkable solidarity and compassion." Greece has been generous in its efforts to save lives despite its severe economic troubles, the U.N. chief added.

Tens of thousands of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and other trouble spots are in camps in Greece, hoping to find permanent homes in the European Union.

The EU reached a deal with Turkey this year to steer refugees trying to reach the EU to Greece, where they can apply for asylum. Those whose applications are rejected are then returned to Turkey, in exchange for EU aid and other benefits to the Ankara government.

Human rights activists have criticized the deal, saying that refugees face poor treatment in Turkey and that the arrangement endorsed by the EU treats those fleeing war and other hardships like pawns in a political chess game.

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