UNHCR deplores attacks against humanitarians on Greek islands, appeals for calm

oung refugees at the UNHCR transit site of Skala Sikamineas on Lesvos. September 2019.
© UNHCR/Gordon Welters

Ελληνικά

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, appeals for calm and restraint after a series of deplorable and intimidating acts on the Greek Aegean islands against refugees and migrants, humanitarian workers, including a UNHCR staff member on Lesvos and the arson of a UNHCR transit site for new arrivals on Lesvos’s north shore. UNHCR has received reports of attacks against Non Governmental Organisations and journalists.

We strongly condemn these acts and call on Greece’s government to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers and civil society members.

Greek island communities have shown great compassion and solidarity for the plight of refugees in the last years. In recent weeks, local communities have understandably been expressing their anxiety and frustration through more vocal and public protest because of the disproportionate burden and responsibility to host some 36,000 asylum seekers in five overloaded reception centres designed for fewer than 6,000. In this context, it is of the utmost importance that violent and aggressive attitudes expressed by some remain isolated and that values of humanism and compassion prevail.

UNHCR has repeatedly called on the Greek government to take decisive action to alleviate the critical overcrowding and dire conditions on the islands, especially on Samos and Lesvos and to urgently address an ongoing situation in line with international law and standards. We renew this call today.