UN worried about migrants dying of cold, "dire" situation in Greece

by Reuters
Friday, 13 January 2017 10:24 GMT

Stranded Syrian refugees carry their children through a show storm at a refugee camp north of Athens, Greece January 10, 2017.REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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GENEVA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Refugees and migrants are dying in Europe's sudden cold snap, and governments must do more to help them rather than pushing them back from borders and subjecting them to violence and confiscations, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.

"It's about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements," Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the U.N. children's agency UNICEF told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva. "The dire situation now is Greece."

UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly detailed five deaths so far from the cold and said about 1,000 people were in unheated tents and dormitories in Greece, calling for them to be transferred to better shelter on the mainland.

Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said migrant movements across the Mediterranean had "started out in a big way" in 2017, and the death toll for the year was already 27.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tom Miles)

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