U.N. worried about migrants dying of cold, 'dire' situation in Greece


 Reuters International

A stranded refugee boy rides his bicycle through a snowstorm at a refugee camp north of Athens January 10, 2017.REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis - RTX2YCOL

(reuters_tickers)

GENEVA (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)

Reuters

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