Greece: UNHCR pleased by welcome for boat people
UNHCR is pleased to see the excellent reception given by Greece to a boat carrying more than 270 people who arrived on the island of Evia last Wednesday.
The Greek authorities responded quickly and decisively after the first people swam ashore. All those found so far have been given good accommodation, food, and medical care where necessary. About 10 of the passengers received hospital treatment. The local population brought food, toys, clothes and other gifts in a show of support. In general, the Greek government, media and people have reacted with great sympathy and admirable hospitality towards the boat people. The government stated clearly that Greece would stand by its international obligations towards any asylum-seekers among the passengers. An asylum screening process is currently underway on Evia, and a UNHCR team has been on the spot since last Wednesday to assist and monitor the screening process.
So far, a total of 272 people from the boat have been located, including 14 women and 13 children. 220 are reported to be Iraqis. There were also 18 Afghans, 22 Pakistanis, 7 Iranians, 4 Turks and 1 Palestinian on board. According to some of those interviewed, between three and five people died during the journey and their bodies were thrown overboard. The Greek authorities conducted an extensive sea and air search to try and locate the bodies, but so far none have been found.