Greek state urged to "take control" of refugee crisis

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Two boys rest next to their tent outside the screening centre at Moria. Refugees and migrants live in tents until there is space available to accommodate them inside the centre. Photo: UNHCR/S.Baltagiannis

Two boys rest next to their tent outside a screening centre on the Greek island of Lesvos. Photo: UNHCR/S.Baltagiannis

The Greek authorities have been urged by the UN to take control of what's been described as a refugee crisis on its shores.

Some 124,000 people have arrived in Greece since the beginning of the year with 50,000 arriving in July alone.

The UN warned that government inaction is hampering the aid effort.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report from Geneva.

In a direct appeal to Greece, UN aid coordinator Vincent Cochetel said he'd never seen such "shameful" conditions in 30 years of aid work.

Mr Cochetel, who heads the UN Refugee Agency's response in Europe, described what he called "total chaos" on one of the Greek islands he had visited.

"The level of suffering that we have seen on the island was unbearable; people arrive thinking they have arrived in the European Union, what we have seen is not anything that is unacceptable in terms of standard of treatment. There is absolutely nothing waiting for them…"

One of the biggest problems is the lack of official reception centres, the agency said.

This meant that aid had to be handed out to refugees in the streets, a situation Mr Cochetel described as "totally inadequate".

The refugees arriving in Greece are principally from Syria, along with Afghans and Iraqis; all are in need of protection.

Vincent Cochetel stressed that the refugees are not economic migrants and have only come to Europe because they either feared for their lives or had lost hope of going home.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’04″

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