The rise of nationalism in rich countries poses a worrying challenge to the tide of migrants fleeing wars, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said, urging international cooperation to manage the flows pragmatically "rather than building walls". The migration situation has fuelled support for anti-immigration and anti-EU populists in many countries.
Grandi sought to rebuild respect for the principle of asylum which is under pressure by politicians' misleading portrayal of refugees as a threat.
“You have rich countries that are becoming inward-looking. We've seen it in the United States and Europe, and we have seen also unfortunately some exploitation of these fears or this malaise, and linking it to the presence of foreigners. I think this is misleading in a way. Refugees flee because they are afraid," he explained. "Global movements by definition cannot be handled by countries individually - which is what these [nationalist] trends are pointing to - so it's much better to cooperate internationally." He continued "Instead of explaining to people that refugees need help, instead of multiplying efforts to help people in their countries or trying to solve conflicts, address poverty, they [politicians] have ... presented these people as people that come to rich countries, abuse the values or steal the wealth or take jobs away."