Greece doing 'all we can' on migrant crisis, PM tells UN

Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Oct 1, 2015 at the United Nations in New York.
Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Oct 1, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. PHOTO: AFP

United States (AFP) - Greece's prime minister told the United Nations on Thursday (Oct 1) that Athens was doing all it could to help the refugee and migrant crisis, and criticised the building of walls to keep them out.

"In cooperation with the EU and other international organisations - we are doing all we can to manage these flows in an effective and humane way," Alexis Tsipras told the General Assembly.

Around 330,000 people, most of them Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans fleeing war, have arrived on Greek shores so far this year, with another 3,000 still arriving every day, UN figures show.

 

Greece is "improving reception facilities and identification procedures" and setting up hot spots to facilitate relocation, Tsipras said, criticising European countries trying to keep them out.

On Thursday, Hungary attached razor wire to a fence erected at its border with Croatia and last month sealed its border with Serbia, cutting off the main entry point for tens of thousands of migrants.

"We do not believe that the future of Europe or our world can be built on ever higher walls, or children dying at our doorstep," said Tsipras, less than two weeks after winning re-election.

"We cannot allow racism and xenophobia to destroy our common principles," he added.

Some 500,000 people have come to Europe so far this year, the International Organization for Migration says, many of them taking perilous journeys across the Mediterranean on inflatable dinghies.

More than 2,800 people have died or disappeared making the crossing since January.

Greece's charismatic left-wing leader won re-election on September 20, giving him a fresh mandate to push trough a controversial bailout deal to rescue Greece's debt-ridden economy.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday appealed on European countries to keep borders open and combat xenophobia.