This statement not only came amid rapidly deteriorating conditions in Greece but also just days before Turkey is due to begin taking back illegal migrants from Greece. Under the deal, Turkey starts taking back migrants on Monday, according to the deal. However, neither side is fully ready, with officials scrambling to be able to make at least a symbolic start as new arrivals rise.
Over 51,000 refugees are currently in Greece, Tolo News quoted the UNHCR as said.
“We are urging the parties to the recent EU and Turkey agreement on refugees and migrants to ensure that all safeguards are in place before any returns begin. This is in light of continued serious gaps in both countries,” UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a Geneva news briefing.
The agency, which says nine in 10 of refugees arriving on rickety boats are fleeing for their lives, has voiced concerns that Turkey may deport refugees en masse to Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq where they could face persecution or violence.
Meanwhile, conditions on the islands of Lesbos and Samos – where three people were stabbed in rioting on Thursday night – and at the Athens port of Piraeus and Idomeni at the border with Macedonia are worsening, she said.
“The risk of panic and injury in these sites and others is real,” Fleming said.
The EU must provide greater support, as promised, to boost Greece’s creaking asylum system, she said.