Refugee agency claims people being pushed back over borders, beaten by police and having phones and clothes confiscated
Refugees and migrants at risk of dying in the severe cold weather sweeping across Europe are being moved back over borders and subjected to violence and confiscations, the UN’s refugee agency has said, as it calls on governments to do more to help.
The UNHCR said at least five refugees had died from the cold weather since the start of the year, as temperatures dropped as low as -14C in parts of Greece, and several countries saw some of the heaviest snowfall in years.
The fatalities include two Iraqi men, whose bodies were found in south-eastern Bulgaria after they had crossed from Turkey, and a young Somali woman whose body was found in the same region. A 20-year-old Afghan man died of complications resulting from exposure to the cold after crossing the Evros river at the border between Greece and Turkey at night, when temperatures fell below -10C.
“Saving lives must be a priority and we urge state authorities across Europe to do more to assist and protect refugees and migrants,” a UNHCR spokeswoman, Cecile Pouilly, told a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.
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