UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has censured Macedonia for “systematic” violation of the rights of dejected and vulnerable refugees, particularly children.
“I urge the government to put an end to these practices, which are in breach of international law,” Zeid said on Friday.
The UN rights chief said he was deeply concerned after receiving reports of Macedonia's collective and arbitrary expulsion of refugees into neighboring countries.
He said measures such as detaining and expelling refugees, especially the detention of children, violated international human rights.
Zeid said when his staff visited Macedonia earlier this month, they witnessed widespread detention of refugees, including many children, "who have been living in limbo since March."
“It is duty of the authorities to ensure that all migrants are properly and systematically screened so that vulnerable people are identified and adequate protection measures taken,” he said.
“We have received reports of terrible abuses taking place, including rapes, extortion and kidnapping,” the senior UN official said, adding that refugees, particularly women and children, were “in a deplorably vulnerable situation.”
“Many of these migrants have already had terrible experiences in their home countries, as well as during their journeys to Europe, and they deserve, and are legally entitled to, better treatment than this… It is not enough just to provide the minimum in terms of food and shelter,” he said.
European leaders have repeatedly warned the tragedy-stricken refugees heading to the continent that they are not welcome there.
Earlier this month, European Council President Donald Tusk went even further and said the capacity to take in more refugees is almost full.
“The practical capability of Europe to host new waves of refugees… is close to limits,” Tusk told reporters on September 4.
Many blame the West for the violence and unrest that has forced millions of people to flee their homes in the Middle East and North Africa, causing the huge flow of refugees into Europe.