The representative of UNHCR in Greece Philippe Leclerc pointed out the progress achieved in the management of the refugee crisis in Greece in the last years, during his address at Thessaloniki Regional Forum 2019 on Saturday evening.
“Five years ago there were only one thousand temporary hosting seats” said Leclerc adding that now there are twenty seven thousands in apartment and twenty thousand seats in the hosting centres which is not enough because people come from Samos, Lesvos and many of them are sent to the mainland, so we must have more options, and there has been progress in the living conditions in comparison with those existing five years ago.
Leclerc said that Greece can help with its experience the other countries of the Balkans that , for the time being, are crossing countries and not reception countries, to build their systems in this sector and with EU’s support.
“Of course, all these countries are not yet member of EU, they have received some support but not as much as Greece” said Leclerc adding that it is important for every country to have a share in the refugee crisis, including those that previously were refugee originated countries and now are receiving refugees from other countries. “the refugee issue (from Balkan countries) is an issue of the past. Now, the countries of the Balkans offer hospitality to refugees. This is a major change”.