Head of U.N. refugee agency to step down this year

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said on Friday he would step down at the end of this year and not seek a renewal of his mandate.

Guterres goes as Europe struggles with its biggest refugee crisis since World War Two, as some of the 4 million Syrians who have fled war seek safety in the West, adding to numbers of people escaping violence and hardship in Africa and Asia. Guterres declined to confirm or deny rumors that he might seek to replace U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who will step down next year. ‘My ambition is exactly to go to the end of the mandate doing exactly what I have to do. And then, we’ll see the next step.

At the moment I think I have the plate full,’ the 66-year-old former Portuguese prime minister told reporters. ‘There are many organizations in the world that have secretary-generals, I don’t know what you are talking about,’ he said, before walking away. Guterres’ spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said: ‘He served over 10 years. His mandate was already extended by six months. It was originally supposed to end in June.’

Earlier on Friday, Guterres said European Union states must make ‘fundamental changes; in policy to take in more refugees.'”

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