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UNHCR concerned by violence at Greek border, calls for improved security

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UNHCR concerned by violence at Greek border, calls for improved security

3 December 2015

UNHCR is deeply concerned about the tension and violence at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and calls on the authorities of both countries to manage the border in a manner consistent with human rights and refugee-protection principles.

As a result of restrictions by the authorities along the Western Balkans route to the admission of refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, tensions have been rising at Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border, in recent days. These tensions have lead on several occasions to violence and a temporary closure of the border.

In this context, UNHCR is saddened by the death of a Moroccan man at the border today under as yet unclear circumstances. This tragic incident further underlies the need for the authorities to take appropriate action. We are calling on the Greek authorities to restore security as a matter of priority in order to ensure the protection of those in need and the safety of humanitarian workers and volunteers.

Transportation has been made available for the refugees and migrants who have been refused admission into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to return to Athens, where reception facilities and assistance are available and UNHCR staff is present to offer individual advice and legal counselling on a case-by-case basis.

UNHCR reiterates its concerns over the consequences of border restrictions currently implemented by several countries in the Balkans. UNHCR recommends profiling people based on their protection needs and not on their nationality. UNHCR and other organisations have called on the concerned states to re-establish coordination and response mechanisms agreed at the Western Balkans Summit on 8 October and the Leaders' Meeting on 25 October 2015.

News contacts:

  • In Geneva, Switzerland, William Spindler: +41 79 217 3011
  • In Athens, Greece, Stella Nanou: +30 693 79 34 515