- Europe stands on the brink of a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis, states the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as a result of closed borders in the Balkans.
The High Commissioner (UNHCR), in a new statement, criticises Europe for having handled the influx of refugees and migrants in a manner that creates unnecessary suffering, and which may be in violation of both the EU's own laws and international standards.
According to UNHCR, many refugees and migrants who are stranded in Greece, are starting to lack both food and water. Many must also sleep outside without any cover.
The situation is now so difficult that it could result in violent reactions, according to a particularly sharp statement by the High Commissioner on Tuesday.
It also leads to better times for traffickers, said the High Commissioner.
According to the UNHCR, there are now 24,000 refugees and migrants in Greece as a result of closed borders in the Balkans and further north in Europe.
8,500 of them are in Idomeni, near the Macedonian border. At least 1,500 of them spent Tuesday night under the open sky.
So far this year, 131,724 people have crossed the Mediterranean to get to Europe. It is more than the total number of refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean in the first half of last year.
And this is most likely just the tiny start of a migration to Europe never before seen. As soon as the European weather gets better, the snow and frost disappear, the migration will only accelerate, and it will create tremendous pressure on the outer border countries of the EU. This summer could become crucial for Europe.
Also, the flow of refugees to Europe is unlikely to stop even if there became peace in Syria, says Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg.
- A minority of those who come, come directly from the conflict in Syria and neighboring areas, said the Prime Minister, and repeated the need to find "European solutions" on the migration issue.
- What is sad is that at the moment Europe is not working in a way that reinforces the solidarity between the countries, she said to Nettavisen.
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