Praise and concern for migrant, refugee facilities on Lesvos

Praise and concern for migrant, refugee facilities on Lesvos

The head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres has praised the efforts made by authorities on Greek islands to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees.

"It is amazing that on a small island, you are managing, whereas in a big Europe, with half a billion people, they are finding it so difficult," Guterres told Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos and other Greek officials during his visit to the eastern Aegean island on Saturday.

"We are always saying this crisis is manageable at the European level, but to be manageable, it needs to be much better managed," he added.

UNHCR now has some 120 staff in Greece to help tackle the crisis. Lesvos has received over 220,000 people in nine months – 160,000 in September alone.

However, Human Rights Watch expressed concern on Monday that women with young children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities or medical conditions are often not identified as vulnerable groups nor ensured that they can register and get proper access to basic services such as food and health care when they arrive on Lesvos.

“After months with huge numbers of people arriving in Lesbos, the authorities still don’t have an effective system for registering people so that they can travel onward,” said Eva Cossé, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch.

“This is causing unnecessary security problems for the police and hardship for asylum seekers and migrants, especially for women and children and people with disabilities who can’t force their way to the head of the registration line.”

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