UN criticizes EU over refugee crisis in Greece as more deaths reported
by Daily Sabah with Agencies
ISTANBULJul 24, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Agencies
Jul 24, 2015 12:00 am
The United Nations refugee agency has criticized the European Union for not adequately dealing with the migrant crisis hitting Greece. William Spindler, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman, said on Friday that more than 100,000 refugees had arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2015.
"The refugee situation in Greece is getting worse day by day," Spindler said. "We are aware of Greece's situation but the EU must do its part. This problem is not only Greece's." Spindler said that 5 percent of the refugees arriving in Greece stayed in the country. The rest headed to northern Europe, namely Germany and Sweden.
He added that UNHCR was providing support to Greece but stressed that it needed additional assistance. "Greece needs humanitarian aid to help refugees," Spindler said.
Spindler said that 60 percent of the refugees came from Syria and that many of them arrived in Greece via Turkey. "There are 2 million refugees in Turkey." he added. "The EU and the international community must do more for countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, which host almost 4 million refugees."
Meanwhile, as many as 40 would-be refugees, including at least seven children, have died while trying to reach Italy from Libya in the latest Mediterranean migrant tragedy, Save the Children reported Thursday. The aid group said some of the 80 survivors of the crossing who were brought ashore Thursday in Augusta, Sicily, reported the deaths that occurred the previous day when the dinghy they were traveling on took in water.
Eventually, a cargo vessel spotted them and alerted search-and-rescue authorities and the German navy, taking part in the EU's Mediterranean rescue mission, came to their aid and brought them to shore. The dead were believed to be mostly sub-Saharan Africans from Senegal, Mali and Benin and included at least seven children, the group reported in a statement.
So far this year, more than 80,000 migrants have come ashore in Italy, with a similar number arriving in Greece. In the deadliest crossing, some 800 migrants were believed to have drowned in April when their boat capsized off Libya with hundreds of people trapped in the hold by smugglers; a few days before that tragedy another 400 people drowned. The EU came under fire on Tuesday for failing to agree on how to distribute all 40,000 migrants from overstretched Italy and Greece. They agreed to start relocating a little over 32,000 migrants among the EU's 28 members in October, falling around 8,000 short of the target agreed to by EU leaders at a summit in June. Ensuring access to asylum for refugees, including at sea and land borders, remains a significant challenge for EU countries as human rights organizations have urged EU member states to fulfill their international protection obligations.