UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed shock and alarm at the treatment of refugees and migrants on the border of Hungary and Serbia, warning that they should be treated with dignity and their human rights respected.
Hungarian police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesting migrants demanding to be allowed to enter from Serbia as a border crackdown by Budapest turned violent.
"I was shocked to see how these refugees and migrants were treated, it's not acceptable," Ban told a news conference.
"All the countries have their domestic problems, but since they are the people fleeing the wars and persecutions, then we must show our compassionate leadership," he said.
"First and foremost we have to provide life-saving assistance and shelter and ... sanitation, then we can discuss how they should be treated, accommodated," Ban said.
The biggest flow of immigrants into Western Europe since World War Two has sown discord across the continent, fuelling the rise of far-right political parties and jeopardizing the 20-year-old Schengen border-free travel zone.
"They must be treated with human dignity and human rights," Ban added. "That's my consistent message to European and Asian leaders."
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Franklin Paul and James Dalgleish)