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UNHCR 'seriously concerned' about refugee camp conditions in Greece

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This image shows asylum seekers locked within the Kalohori refugee camp on May 25, 2016, near Thessaloniki. Greece. (AFP Photo)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says it is “seriously concerned” about the lower-than-standard conditions at camps where refugees were recently evacuated in Greece.

Melissa Fleming, the spokeswoman for the UNHCR, said at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday, “UNHCR is seriously concerned about sub-standard conditions at several sites in northern Greece where refugees and migrants were evacuated this week from the makeshift site at Idomeni, and urges the Greek authorities, with the financial support provided by the European Union, to find better alternatives quickly.”

From May 24 to May 26, the Greek government ordered the mandatory evacuation of thousands of people waiting for passage to northern Europe from the makeshift refugee camp in the village of Idomeni in northern Greece to official refugee camps made in “derelict warehouses and factories,” as Fleming described them.  

“UNHCR agrees that the makeshift site at Idomeni … needed to be evacuated ... However, the conditions of some of these sites to which the refugees and migrants are transferred fall well below minimum standards,” Fleming stated.

“The air circulation is poor, and supplies of food, water, toilets, showers, and electricity are insufficient” at the official refugee camps, she added.

“Poor conditions at these sites are fueling tensions within refugee populations and complicating efforts to provide required assistance and protection.”

“UNHCR renews its call for immediate… full compliance with basic humanitarian requirements,” the UN official stated.

This image taken in northern Greece on May 25, 2016 shows refugees waiting for the distribution of food. (AFP Photo)

An estimated 8,500 refugees had been camping out at Idomeni.

Last year, more than 1.1 million refugees entered Europe through Turkey and Greece and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states of the bloc.

Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in those regions, forcing more people to flee their homes.

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