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UN chief Ban Ki-moon tells ITV News: UK should do much more to help refugees

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore

The UK "should do much more" to alleviate the refugee crisis, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told ITV News.

He also said the UK should show more "compassionate global leadership" over the crisis because the country has benefited from immigration and migration.

"I have spoken to PM David Cameron and urged him to show strong global leadership and compassionate leadership because [the] UK is also a country which has benefited through immigration and migration," Mr Ban told ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore.

"As one of the permanent members of the Security Council, one of the richest countries there is a heightened expectation that the UK should do much more."

On Monday, David Cameron announced the UK will resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

Europe has seen a huge increase in the number of migrants fleeing the civil war in Syria in the last few weeks.

Ban Ki-moon admitted that said if the crisis in the war-torn country is not resolved soon the international community will have failed.

"If we do not address [the] Syrian issue as soon as possible we may have to regret that we have made a complete failure," he said.

A Syrian family arrive on the Greek island of Agathonisi. Credit: Reuters

The Secretary General said he was heartbroken seeing pictures of drowned three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down on the sand of a Turkish beach.

The toddler's "needless death" should force Europe to "rise against the crisis", he said.

I was heartbroken. That's why I made my personal appeal to the world leaders, particularly European leaders.

This is a needless death.

When there is war the it's always women and children, the vulnerable people whose lives are always threatened, whose lives are always first to be victimised.

We have to rise against this crisis.

– Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general
The pictures of Aylan's (left) body sparked renewed action to deal with the crisis. Credit: ITV News

Mr Ban welcomed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's plan to distribute as many as 160,000 refugees among EU nations under a quota system.

"I should hope the UK will also do the same," he said.

He insisted Europe's leaders must do more to tackle the "uncontrollable" issue.

In a passionate appeal to Europe's leaders, Mr Ban said: "EU leaders, individually and collectively, they are the richest countries in the world at this time.

"Therefore they have the capacity to show compassionate leadership and that's the issue which wakes me up during the night."

In response to Ban Ki-moon's interview with ITV News, Downing Street said: "We are very clear we have played a leading role throughout. Yes, there's a need to do more, and we are doing more.

"The Prime Minister and Ban Ki-Moon have worked closely together...and they share similar views of the need for the world to do more."

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