UN Official Criticizes Deplorable Conditions for Migrants and Refugees on Greek Islands



refugees

While visiting the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and Kos, which have been central points in the massive influx of refugees and migrants to Greece, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) director for Europe Vincent Cochetel decried the chaotic situation.

On Friday, the European Commission said that 50,000 people had entered the Greek borders in July. The United Nations had found that until the end of this past June, 68,000 people had migrated to Greece through the Mediterranean sea.

In 2014, the total number of refugees and migrants that entered Greece was 43,500.

Reuters reported that Cochetel said that he had never seen a situation like this in his 30-year affiliation with the United Nations and described the scenes as shameful.

“In terms of water, in terms of sanitation, in terms of food assistance, it’s totally inadequate. On most of the islands, there is no reception capacity, people are not sleeping under any form of roof,” he said and added “So it’s total chaos on the islands. After a couple of days they are transferred to Athens and there is nothing waiting for them in Athens.”

Cochetel called for a collective response to the problem and urged Greece to launch initiatives that will provide humane reception conditions for migrants and refugees.

“We are concerned with the situation where no one is really assuming leadership in the response, which makes it very difficult for humanitarian operators to participate in the efforts,” he said.

On Friday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the migration crisis is a European problem and should be dealt as such.