UN calls on Greece to end overcrowding of refugee camps


UN refugee agency on Tuesday called on Greece to urgently move thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers out of “dangerously overcrowded” reception centers on Greek islands in the Aegean. 

The Greek islands now host 30,000 refugees and 10,258 of them arrived in September 2019, the highest monthly level since 2016, according to a statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

At the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, 12,600 people took refuge which is five times over its capacity, the statement said.

“At a nearby informal settlement, 100 people share a single toilet. Tensions remain high at Moria where a fire on Sunday in a container used to house people killed one woman. An ensuing riot by frustrated asylum-seekers led to clashes with police,” the UNHCR said.

“Urgent steps are needed and we urge the Greek authorities to fast-track plans to transfer over 5,000 asylum-seekers already authorized to continue their asylum procedure on the mainland,” it added.

The UN Refugee Agency will also continue to support the Greek government to transfer refugees to the mainland in October.

“Longer-term solutions are also needed, including supporting refugees to become self-reliant and integrate in Greece,” said the statement.

At least 1,000 migrants have died so far this year in the Mediterranean Sea, said the UN refugee agency on Tuesday.

Some 77,400 irregular migrants reached Europe by crossing Mediterranean in 2019, 45,600 of which arrived in Greece, more than Spain, Italy, Malta, and Greek Cypriot administration combined, UNHCR said.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that at least 15,000 victims have lost their lives in Mediterranean crossings since 2014.
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