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Greece needs urgent aid with refugees at risk of going hungry in camps

11.7.2015 19:12
Refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, 2015. (PHOTO:  YouTube.com)
Refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, 2015. (PHOTO: YouTube.com)

Greece needs urgent aid with the influx of thousands of immigrants and refugees who are sailing into the country every day, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The agency has called on the European Union to aid the country before the humanitarian situation deteriorates further there.

Since the beginning of this year more than 77 000 refugees have arrived in Greece, 60 % of whom are Syrians and the rest of whom are from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia. "The continually-changing economic situation, combined with the rising number of new arrivals, represents an enormous burden in particular for communities living on small islands," said UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler.  

Local authorities on islands such as Lesbos, where the situation is very critical, are not capable of dealing with the onrush of immigrants, according to the UNHCR. Spindler also added that most refugees who register in Greece try to make their way into northern Europe through Macedonia, Serbia and then Hungary.

"We would expect the EU to activate its system to react to this exceptional situation, because Greece is part of the European Union. This is happening in Europe, at its doorstep," Reuters quotes Spindler as saying today.

"Greece needs aid urgently and we expect Europe to do something," the UNHCR spokesperson said. On Thursday the agency warned that if Greek banks run out of cash in the context of the current crisis, there will be a problem with ensuring that the basic needs of the refugees on the Greek islands are met.  

British newspaper The Guardian reports that the refugee camps established by the Greek Government are overcrowded. As many as 5 000 refugees, primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, are crowded into a single facility on the island of Lesbos.  

The managers of some camps, according to The Guardian, are already unable to pay suppliers, so the Army has provided basic groceries to refugees in one facility. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 150 000 immigrants are estimated to have arrived in Europe so far this year, most of them in Greece and Italy.  

Since January, 1 900 refugees have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea. That is twice as many as died during the same period last year.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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EU, Immigration, refugee, Greece



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