UN chief calls for greater support for Greece as it tackles refugee challenge

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Greece should not be left on its own to address the European refugee and migrant crisis, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday.

The UN chief was speaking to the press in the country's capital, Athens, following talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Mr Ban is on a two-day visit to Greece, where over 57,000 refugees and migrants are dispersed throughout the mainland and islands, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN Secretary-General acknowledged the tremendous challenges that Greece faces in addressing the needs of scores of desperate people fleeing war and persecution.

He thanked the Greek people for their "remarkable solidarity and compassion" throughout this emergency.

 "Despite the country's own economic difficulties, Greece has been generous in saving human lives. Greece deserves our admiration.  It also deserves greater support from the international community.  Greece should not be left alone to address this challenge on its own."

Mr Ban and Prime Minister Tsipras also discussed the conflict in Syria, recent terrorist attacks and other factors which are causing large-scale suffering and instability.

He also expressed appreciation for Greece's support to ongoing peace talks aimed at bridging differences between the two main communities in Cyprus.

Mr Ban arrived in Greece on Friday and has also met with the country's President and Foreign Minister.

He also travelled to the island of Lesbos to assess the situation of refugees there.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’16″







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