UNHCR urges countries to enable safe passage of Syrian refugees

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Syrian refugees

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is concerned about the difficulties Syrian refugees continue to endure in their attempts to seek safety and protection in Europe.

The agency says hundreds of Syrians have drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, while hundreds more, including women and children, have been arrested and detained in Egypt.

Since January, over 7.500 Syrians and Palestinians have arrived along the coast of Italy.

UNHCR says the increasing number of unaccompanied children making the perilous journey to reach Europe is of growing concern.

The UN refugee agency says the Syrian refugee crisis is proving to be a destabilizing factor not only in the Middle East region but also among the many host countries, and it is appealing to governments to explore concrete and meaningful ways of expressing solidarity, notably with a view to sharing the burden of providing humanitarian assistance and protection.

Melissa Fleming is UNHCR Spokesperson in Geneva.

"A new trend we are also noting is the growing numbers of Syrians are crossing the Mediterranean from Egypt to Italy, citing increasing anxiety over their security as well as incidents of physical assault, verbal threat, detention and deportation. According to the Egyptian Government there ae as many as 250,000 to 300,000 Syrians currently reside in Egypt, of whom 122,774 are registered with UNHCR. We also note that over 800 Syrians have been arrested in Egypt since August for attempting to illegally depart. UNHCR is seeking access to the detained in order to properly verify numbers, conditions, and needs, or provide legal assistance."

UNHCR further calls on countries beyond the region to ensure appropriate treatment and protection for Syrians by ensuring access to territory and to swift and fair asylum procedures.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration:  2’09″

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