Greece receives boatload of 270 asylum seekers
ATHENS, Sept 11 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency welcomed what it called the "excellent reception" given by Greece to a boat carrying more than 270 people who arrived on the Greek island of Evia on September 5. UNHCR Spokesman Kris Janowski said the Greek authorities responded quickly and decisively after the first people swam ashore.
"The government stated clearly that Greece would stand by its international obligations towards any asylum-seekers among the passengers," said Janowski. An asylum screening process is currently underway on Evia, and a UNHCR team has been on the spot since September 5 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. All those found so far have been given good accommodation, food and medical care where necessary. 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," said Janowski.
The group reportedly includes some 220 Iraqis, 18 Afghans, 22 Pakistanis, 7 Iranians, 4 Turks and 1 Palestinian. Some of the survivors indicated that between three and five people died during the journey and their bodies were thrown overboard. The Greek authorities have conducted an extensive sea and air search to try and locate the bodies, but so far none have been found.