UN: Europe 'on cusp' of migrant disaster

UN: Europe 'on cusp' of migrant disaster

Europe is "on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis" because of a rapid build-up of migrants on Greece's borders, the UN has warned, BBC reports.


"The crowded conditions are leading to shortages of food, shelter, water and sanitation," UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesman Adrian Edwards said.


Close to 24,000 migrants in Greece are in need of housing.


Some 8,500 of them are stuck in worsening conditions on the Greece-Macedonia border.


The crossing at Idomeni is now closed following protests by migrants desperate to continue their journey to Western European countries. Some migrants have been stranded at the overburdened camp for more than a week.

"At least 1,500 had spent the previous night in the open," Mr Edwards said on Tuesday.


"Tensions have been building, fuelling violence and playing into the hands of people smugglers," the spokesman added.


The site was beset by heavy rain overnight, posing serious health risks to a minority with no shelter.


BBC reporters saw hundreds more migrants heading across fields towards Idomeni on Tuesday.


Hundreds of small tents have been erected in the fields around the official camp, which can take no more people. Families of 10 are sharing four-man tents, Caroline Haga, an emergency co-ordinator for the International Red Cross (ICRC), told the BBC.


Ms Haga, who left the camp on Monday night but is due to return on Tuesday, said the medical charity had serious concerns for the health of the migrants as the weather deteriorated.


"Many people here are soaking wet and cold from having to sleep out in the open, it still dips below 10 here during the night," she said.


"We are already seeing a lot of flu cases, especially among children, so imagine if they have to sleep outside in the wet again. It could turn into a very serious health problem."



Photo: bbc.com