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UN agency calls for stronger coordination to improve situation of refugees in Greece
March 28,2017   By:Xinhua
UNITED NATIONS, March 28, 2017 -- The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday that joint efforts and strengthened cooperation are crucial for improving the situation of asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece, a UN spokesman told reporters here.
 
"UNHCR has issued eight recommendations aimed at putting in place a sustainable refugee response in Greece, including improving reception conditions as a top priority," the deputy UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, said at a daily news briefing here.
 
"Steps need to be taken to provide more accommodation opportunities in urban areas and to address the specific needs of unaccompanied and separated children," Haq said.
 
The situation in Greece can be managed, said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, but it would require moving from the current emergency response to a sustainable system.
 
Grandi called on European Union governments to provide strong support for Greece, saying that "More solidarity and responsibility sharing among across Europe is needed."
 
The UN high commissioner also renewed his call to the Greek government for clear coordination structures, with well-defined roles and responsibilities for all actors.
 
As of March 20, only 10,000 asylum-seekers had left Greece for other European countries.
 
The UN agency said that it has been working with the Greek government over the past months to find alternative sites for temporary housing, as well as to help some refugees who were to remain in Greece to more easily integrate to the country's social culture.
 
Progress in reception conditions will also help prevent and fight sexual and gender based violence, to which many vulnerable asylum-seekers, including women and children, are exposed in the sites.
 
More attention is needed to the length and quality of the asylum procedures and reception conditions on the islands, Grandi said.
 
"This will allow for more and faster transfers to the mainland and prevent sites on the islands from falling back into the dire conditions and the overcrowding we have witnessed in the past months," he added, noting that UNHCR supported some 7,000 of the more than 10,000 transfers organized since June 2016.