UNHCR URGES INVESTIGATION INTO ABUSE OF REFUGEES IN HUNGARY
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is urging Hungary’s judiciary to investigate reports the country’s police and army personnel have beaten asylum-seekers and set police dogs on them. Janos Lazar, minister in charge of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office, denies Hungarian police or soldiers have mistreated refugees and described their performance as “outstanding”. However, UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman William Spindler said, “Reports include cases of bites by unleashed police dogs, beatings and the use of pepper spray. UNHCR has requested the Hungarian authorities investigate these reports,” adding witness testimony is “consistent”.
GREECE TO REPLACE MOST RECEPTION CENTERS
The Greek government says it plans to close three-quarters of the country’s refugee reception centers by September. They will be replaced with several small state-run locations with better living conditions. The new centers will be modeled on the Eleonas facility, near downtown Athens, which includes prefabricated homes with electricity and running water. Officials have already begun assessing the country’s 42 reception facilities. The centers at Schisto, near Athens, and Diavata and Lagadikia in Thessaloniki, are among those to be kept open. The camps at Nea Kavala and Cherso, in northern Greece, are among those set to close.
BULGARIA REMAINS ON GUARD AFTER ATTEMPTED TURKISH COUP
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov says an additional 230 soldiers have been sent to the country’s southeastern border to bolster patrols and help prevent a possible surge in refugee arrivals from Turkey after the attempted military coup. However, there have been no signs so far of an increase in refugee flows into Bulgaria, and Turkey’s government has given assurances they will not allow the frontier to be overwhelmed. Refugee camps in Turkey, which host some three million people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are reportedly calm.
AID AGENCY WARNS MORE REFUGEES HEADED TO EU
In its annual press conference, global aid organization Caritas warns more refugees from Syria are headed to the EU. President Peter Neher says tens of thousands of refugees are waiting in disastrous conditions in Balkan countries. According to UN estimates, more than 50,000 refugees are currently in the Balkans. Neher adds many avoid official refugee shelters for fear of deportation, often using people smugglers to transport them to northern EU countries. Caritas is calling on the European Union to provide more financial assistance to Balkan nations and Greece, which have become overwhelmed trying to accommodate tens of thousands of asylum-seekers.