Merkel Says Refugees ‘Central Global Question’

Young exile Tibetan Buddhist monks read a picture storybook at the Namgyal Monastery School in Dharmsala, India, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

PARIS (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the number of refugees worldwide is “simply unthinkable” and that people fleeing is “a central global question of our time.”

The U.N. refugee agency reported Tuesday that nearly 69 million people fleeing war, violence and persecution were forcibly displaced last year, a record for the fifth straight year.

Merkel said Wednesday in Berlin that Germany stands by both its obligation to protect people fleeing war and terrorism and its commitment to keeping Europe together. The European Union has been deeply divided over how to respond to migration, and the chancellor herself faces calls from within her government to turn back some migrants unilaterally at the border.

Merkel said: “However you cut it, migration is a European challenge — perhaps our greatest challenge at the moment.”

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