UN warns Greece against wall halting refugees

Asylum seekers from occupied Afghanistan form the biggest group entering Greece, followed by those from Somalia, Iraq and Eritrea.

UN warns Greece against wall halting refugees

Greece said on Monday it planned a wall at its border with Turkey in the Evros region to prevent immigrants or refugees flowing into the debt-choked country.

Asylum seekers from occupied Afghanistan form the biggest group entering Greece, followed by those from Somalia, Iraq and Eritrea.

The fence could lead illegal migrants, including people in need of international protection, to resort to even riskier routes with the help of unscrupulous human traffickers, it said.

"While every state has the right to control its borders, it is clear that among the many people crossing Turkey toward the European Union, there are a significant number who are fleeing violence and persecution," Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told a news briefing.

"Building fences, we believe, rarely solves the underlying problem of migratory pressures," she said.

Immigration was likely to be discussed during Friday's visit by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to Turkey.

Greece must establish border control mechanisms that provide concrete guarantees to people seeking international protection, according to UNHCR.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organisation for Migration echoed the concerns.

"What we've seen in all parts of the world is when a wall is being built to seal a border, smuggling networks basically take migrants and asylum-seekers on increasingly dangerous routes. Obviously there is a human cost."

"That route is already dangerous. In fact there are large numbers of migrants and people seeking asylum, potentially, who are drowning en route at the hands of notorious smugglers. So we're concerned that this could get even worse," Fleming said.

The problem is compounded by Greece's asylum system which UNHCR qualifies as "dysfunctional" despite reform efforts.

Agencies


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Last Mod: 07 Ocak 2011, 17:59
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