Migrants face harsh winter conditions in Europe: UNHCR

Geneva, Jan 13 (IANS) Thousands of migrants in Greece and Serbia are facing high risks as extreme weather conditions continue to affect large swathes of southeastern Europe, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned on Friday.

“We are deeply worried at the situation of some 1,000 people, including families with young children, who continue to live under unheated tents and dormitories in Samos,” Xinhua quoted UNHCR spokesperson Cecile Pouilly as saying.

“We are concerned at the situation of some 1,200 males who still stay rough in inadequate informal cites in Belgrade city centre, including up to 300 unaccompanied or separated boys,” she added.

The UN agency said reports indicating that a number of refugees and migrants have already lost their lives trying to enter or move across Europe were “extremely concerning.”

According to media reports, five individuals have died since the beginning of the year due to plummeting temperatures.

In light of extreme conditions, UNHCR said that it has stepped up assistance in Greece, where hundreds of people have been transferred to better lodgings on the islands of Lesvos and Chios over the last few days.

In Serbia, the agency said that 82 per cent of the 7,300 refugees, asylum-seeker and migrants are now able to stay in heated shelters provided by the government.