UNHCR Greece has this week demanded clarification from Greek authorities regarding the whereabouts of 150 Syrian refugees, among them many families with children. The refugees were being held in police custody but were later taken by the authorities to an unknown destination.

The UN Agency reminds Greece of its obligation to refer all newly arriving third country nationals to a First Reception Centre in order to properly register and indentify them as well as cover their essential needs.

This week, UNHCR has also commented on a report on push backs of refugees at the Greek-Turkish land border published by Pro Asyl last week. Due to the numbers and scale of the incidents described, the report raises serious concerns regarding Greece’s treatment of refugees, mainly Syrians, UNHCR stated.

UNHCR highlights that Turkey is already hosting one of the largest numbers of refugees from Syria and Greece’s push backs of refugees to that country will not only put the lives of asylum seekers at risk, but will add to the challenges faced by the government and local communities to support and provide assistance to refugees.

UNHCR has also demanded more information from the Bulgarian authorities on their activities at the border with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees into the country. The Bulgarian media reported this week that Bulgaria closed its border with Turkey over the weekend by sending over 1,100 policemen to guard it. During this period the policemen have detained nearly 100 people who tried to cross the border irregularly.

Laurens Jolles, UNHCR Regional Representative for Southern Europe, called for “a global return moratorium for Syrian refugees to Syria and countries in the region”. According to the UN Agency currently over 2.2 million Syrian refugees are being hosted in the countries neighbouring Syria. UNHCR has also repeated its calls for facilitation of access to the European territory for refugees from Syria.



This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 15 November 2013
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