The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Wednesday to discuss the refugee flow and administration of the crisis in Greece. Grandi called for the EU scheme to relocate refugees from frontline countries to other member states to accelerate its speed bearing in mind that the goal last year was to relocate 160,000 Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans from Greece and Italy over two years but has only managed to relocate 4,000 refugees until now.
He told reporters that he would continue to be an advocate of refugees as well as states hosting them, such as Italy and Greece. “It is one example of European solidarity and cooperation that can and must work so we need to put all our energy in trying to make it work,” said Grandi of the scheme that some central EU member states such as Hungary and Slovakia had challenged in EU courts.
The UNHCR Chief also met with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos in the morning. Pavlopoulos criticized people within and outside the EU for using “unacceptable tactics” against Greece, such as fearmongering. He also referred to the UN’s contribution to addressing the crisis.
Grandi is on his second three-day visit to Athens this year, a rarity for the UN. He said the UNHCR would endorse more EU support for Greece, however, he underlined that efforts to end the conflict in Syria should be amped up.
“Refugees are mostly the result of unresolved conflict and until and unless we solve those conflicts the risk of new influxes and new emergencies cannot be excluded,” said Grandi.
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