Urgent support needed in Greece for refugees

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UNHCR staffer helps refugees and migrants to register at the local police station on Kos Island in Greece. Photo: UNHCR/S. Baltagiannis

A humanitarian crisis in Greece can be avoided with the support from European Union member states and regional institutions, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Initial reception conditions for refugees arriving in Greece’s North Aegean and Dodecanese islands are reportedly worsening, despite the considerable efforts of local authorities and civil society.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 55,000 refugees have arrived in Greece by sea from Turkey.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says hundreds of refugees continue to arrive in Greece every day in inflatable dinghies and wooden boats, putting a tremendous strain on the island communities that receive them.

They are mainly heading to the island of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Leros and Samos.

More than 90 per cent are from countries experiencing conflict and instability, principally Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

The number of arrivals is expected to increase further during the summer, when weather conditions make the sea crossing from the Turkish mainland less hazardous.

Here's William Spindler, Spokesperson for UNHCR.

"UNHCR is ready to continue working with the Greek authorities and civil society in order to address some of these challenges, but greater support from EU Member States and institutions is urgently needed to avoid a humanitarian crisis." (0'13")

Meanwhile, UNHCR said private citizens, local volunteers and non-governmental organizations have been distributing food, water, shoes and clothes to the refugees.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’09″

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