UN Warns Greece, Bulgaria: Don't Turn Away Syria Refugees

Politics » DIPLOMACY | November 15, 2013, Friday // 18:43| Views: | Comments: 5
Bulgaria: UN Warns Greece, Bulgaria: Don't Turn Away Syria Refugees Bulgarian students from New Bulgarian University are pictured here volunteering in support of the university's charity campaignt for Syrian refugees accommodated in the shelter in Ovcha Kupel Sofia district. Photo by NBU.bg

The UN's refugee agency has voiced concerns over reports that Greece and Bulgaria were turning back Syrians fleeing their war-ravaged homeland, forcing them to return to overloaded Turkey.

"Push-backs and prevention of entry can put asylum-seekers at further risk and expose them to additional trauma," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters on Friday.

Edwards said the agency was particularly worried about a group of 150 Syrians, including families with children, barred Tuesday from entering Greece at Evros, on the border with Turkey.

"UNHCR received information from villagers of the group being detained and transported in police vehicles to an unknown location, although they have not been transferred to a reception centre.

"Their current whereabouts is unknown to us," he said, adding that there were fears they had been sent back to Turkey.

In Bulgaria, UNHCR was seeking more information from the authorities about 100 people reportedly denied entry last weekend amid bolstered border security.

"Introducing barriers, like fences or other deterrents, may lead people to undertake more dangerous crossings and further place refugees at the mercy of smugglers," Edwards said.

And in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus -- recognized only by Turkey, and not part of the European Union -- there were reports that Syrians arriving by boat were being detained and sent to Turkey.

More than 2.2 million Syrians have fled their homeland since the civil war erupted in March 2011, and the vast majority have headed to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

The UN repeatedly has called on other nations to help Syria's neighbors shoulder the burden, and Edwards underlined that Turkey alone had taken in at least 500,000.

"UNHCR is calling for a global moratorium on any return of Syrians to neighboring countries," said Edwards, adding it would be a "concrete gesture of solidarity".

"Returning Syrian refugees to Turkey or other neighboring countries only adds to the challenges faced by these governments and local communities to support and provide assistance to refugees," he said.

Edwards said fellow members of the 28-nation bloc needed to spread the load.

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Tags: UN, refugee, Agency, greece, Bulgaria, Syrians, turkey
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» To the forumComments (5)
Yane - 16 Nov 2013 // 01:10:32

Turkey isn't overburdened, it's a big country, they have lots of money and they share the same religion as the refugees. Most important is that Turkey is actively supporting fighting forces, so they are guilty of RESULTS.

Maudlin - 15 Nov 2013 // 20:33:12

Problem - reaction - solution ! This is how it works: You create a problem - in our case, you cause a war in Syria or make a conflict grow. Then you see other countries reaction. In today's colonial world countries do not have much space to move on, usually they obey what international organizations tell them. Finally - you offer the "solution". In our case, according to our masters the solution is to accept more and more refugees. Nobody asks if you want it, if you could accept them, or how much it will cost. They just tell you: "You must do it ! If you do not do it, we know how to make you do it."

Enjoy our "democracy" and our European Membership, dear Bulgarians.

Justme - 15 Nov 2013 // 20:02:43

Oh come on , these UN people don't see the reality of the situation in small countries like Buglaria, Greece and Cyprus. There is not resources and ability to integrate large masses and surges of foriegn population. Live in reality. We took enough already, and already sofia city centre is 90% refugees on the street during the day. So let this guy from the UN shut up, and leave us alone. ENough is enough.

malak petko - 15 Nov 2013 // 19:24:37

Not just hypocrisy but EXTREME stupidity.

malak petko - 15 Nov 2013 // 19:22:26

On the first place UN is very much guilty for the situation is Syria for allowing the Saudis to turn the religious fanaticism into worldwide menace.

Second we receive wave of African illegal immigrants also.
We Bulgarians have unique experience of being Christians living for centuries under the Sharia law.
We were on the receiving end of the Islamic aggression for centuries..
.and we have own Muslims that are vulnerable to the ideas of the radical Islam.

We do not want some of the people coming from Siria... some of them..
And while the western hypocrisy is alive and well!!!!
I preserve my right to judge what is good for my country.

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