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UNHCR Voices Concern about Developments at Border of FYRoM and Greece

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is concerned about the increasingly precarious situation at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), where force was used earlier today to prevent people from crossing.

UNHCR is particularly worried about the thousands of vulnerable refugees and migrants, especially women and children, now massed on the Greek side of the border amid deteriorating conditions.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres spoke today with FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki about the situation, and received assurances that the border will not be closed in the future.

While understanding the pressures facing FYROM and legitimate security concerns, UNHCR appeals to the government to put in place mechanisms necessary to establish an orderly and protection-sensitive management of its borders. In particular, we encourage the government to work with UNHCR to establish sufficient reception capacity in the country as well as organized registration and identification.

UNHCR is also appealing to the Greek authorities to enhance registration and reception arrangements for people in need of international protection and to provide urgent assistance to people stranded on the Greek side of the border and help them move towards reception facilities away from the border.

UNHCR stands ready to provide assistance to both governments with these challenging tasks. We also reiterate earlier calls on the European Union to step up support for countries affected and impacted by the movement of refugees in south-east Europe, including through the robust implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration and increased legal pathways of admission to Europe.

Europe must act together in response to this growing crisis and help overstretched countries like Greece, FYROM and Serbia.