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GREECE

Unprecedented refugee crisis

 

September 2015

Some 124,000 refugees and migrants had arrived in Greece by sea at the end of July this year, the UN refugee agency detailed last week.

UNHCR said that in July alone 50,000 new arrivals were reported, 20,000 more than the previous month -- an increase of almost 70 per cent -- mainly to the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros.

Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's Director of the Bureau for Europe, said the "vast majority" of those coming to Greece are from countries experiencing war or human rights violations, mainly Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

While Syrians make up 63 per cent of all arrivals since the beginning of the year, the percentage of Syrian arrivals increased in July to 70 per cent.

Many are in need of urgent medical assistance, water, food, shelter and information. All are exhausted. The reception infrastructure, services and registration procedures are falling far short of real needs.

So far in 2015, over 225,000 refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in the Mediterranean and around 2,500 are estimated to have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe.

In the meantime, the Abbott Government is considering whether Australia should participate in air strikes on Syrian territory as requested by the US.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek argues Australia's assistance should primarily be "humanitarian". There's no clear legal basis for Australian involvement in Syria", Tania Plibersek said on an ABC radio interview.

 

 

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