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FACTDROP: UN urges Greece to host more Syrian refugees


UN urges Greece to host more Syrian refugees

Πηγή: ABS - CBNnews
April 19 2013

ATHENS - The United Nations' refugee agency on Wednesday urged Greece to host more Syrian refugees, saying it needs to pull its weight, despite its financial woes, in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

Greece -- a key entry point to the European Union -- has been criticised by several rights groups for its lack of humanitarian response to a crisis that has created an estimated 1.35 million refugees and displaced a further four million people since the conflict erupted over two years ago.

Only a small proportion of refugees have fled to Greece, with the bulk of them instead going to Jordan and Lebanon.

Nevertheless Greece should be prepared for more arrivals, warned the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"The situation is deteriorating, but we don't consider that we are in a crisis with the influx of Syrians here in Greece. But we should prepare for a crisis situation," said Giorgos Tsabropoulos, the head of the UNHCR's Athens office.

Panos Moumtzis, a regional UNHCR coordinator based in the Jordanian capital Amman, warned that the humanitarian situation risks becoming "explosive". The agency would have to revise its number of displaced Syrians when it meets in Geneva at the end of next month, he said.

"We're forecasting a possible tripling of the current figures," he said, noting a December estimate had forecast 1.1 million.

"At the time, we were accused of being too pessimistic, but at the end of March, we're already at 1.35 million," he said.

Moumtzis is due to meet this week with Greek authorities to discuss how to better deal with arriving refugees.

UNHCR said it regretted the absence "of a fair system that protects these people" in Greece, where few asylum requests by Syrians are approved.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that out of the 152 asylum applications by Syrians in 2012 decided in first instance, Greece rejected 150.

Emmanuil Katriadakis, a Greek government official, said that from now on Syrian refugees would be granted temporary six-month residency permits.

In October, Greece said it was ready to host 20,000 Syrian refugees on the islands of Rhodes and Crete.

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