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Ban Ki-Moon calls for solidarity with Greece to tackle refugee crisis
Reuters reported that after a meeting with Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday, UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon told the press that "Greece should not be left alone to address this challenge on its own."
Tsipras offered the Secretary-General a life jacket that was one of thousands that Greek authorities have recovered from the shores of several Greek islands in the past year.
While in Athens, Ban Ki-moon also visited the Athens Solidarity Centre where he spoke to volunteers from various organizations, employees, refugees, as well as representatives of international organizations. He also spoke to the board of the NGO "Solidarity Now", which coordinates and supports the centre.
As he passionately spoke about the refugee crisis, he said the crisis is an international issue, not just one of the Mediterranean. He pleaded with the international community to provide much needed humanitarian support for the refugee crisis in Greece.
Greek news agency ANA-MPA reported that he said, "I can understand the challenges created as hundreds of thousands of people arrive every day…The numbers are large. However, this is not a crisis of numbers; it’s a crisis of solidarity."
The Secretary-General also reached out to European and Asian countries to expand the legal routes for refugees. He stressed the importance of the refugees having ample opportunities to pursue an education, work opportunities and scholarships in the countries in which they are relocated. He also mentioned that the U.N.’s general meeting will discuss the refugee crisis in detail on September 19.
Ban Ki-moon also had a meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos earlier in the day. In the meeting he strongly urged the United Nations to apply more pressure on Turkey to implement the new migration deal put into action in March with the EU.
President Pavlopoulos was thankful for Ki-moon’s involvement in the refugee crisis that has affected hundreds of thousands of migrants traveling through Greece and other Mediterranean countries hoping for a better life in Europe.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited on Saturday the island of Lesvos and "met with refugees from countries that have suffered very much," as he said. He toured the refugee and migrant camp at Kara Tepe and the Moria hotspot and thanked the local Greek authorities, the humanitarian organisations and the citizens of Lesvos for their help.
"Lesvos is the island of peace and your sea is the sea of solidarity" he said to the people of Mytilene… "You opened your hearts and your homes to support these people in need". The families of refugees with whom I met today shared with you their hopes. They want from you to give them the opportunity to return all that you have done for them. They want to go back to their country but they are aware that this is only a dream", said Ban Ki-moon.
Ban Ki-moon also made reference to the international community, he said "the international community wants to help towards the solution of the conflicts in the refugees’ countries and to address the reasons for all those problems".
"We must unite and react against intolerance and against the human traffickers," he added, and called on all the European countries to respond by establishing a humanitarian approach that will focus on respect of human rights. "Let’s all work together in order for the relocation of these people to become possible and to find legal ways for this. I recognize and understand the difficulties but there are possibilities and ways exist to meet these challenges"
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