[JURIST] With a tremendous influx of refugees in the Greek islands of Chios, Kalymnos, Kos, Lesvos, Leros and Samos, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees‘ (UNHCR) aid capabilities have been stretched thin. Working through a four-day shipping strike, the UN refugee agency on Saturday reasserted its call [press release] for greater reception capabilities on the islands, as they currently house around 20,000 refugees. As boats with refugees continued to land on the islands throughout the week, efforts were further stifled by a shipping strike that cut travel to mainland Greece for four days leading up to Friday. Working closely with the government and local agencies, spokesperson William Spindler says the UNHCR is attempting to get a roof over every refugee’s head.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Late last month, Human Rights Watch called on [JURIST report] the European Union and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. Earlier that month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged [JURIST report] the Czech Republic to stop detaining migrants and refugees in “degrading” conditions. According to Zeid, the numerous migrants and refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since August 2015 have been subjected to human rights violations. The month before, Zeid gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. In his statement, he commended the efforts of ordinary citizens in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK who have opened their homes to refugees and have galvanized politically to help with the crisis. Also in September Germany announced that it was invoking temporary border controls [JURIST report] at the nation’s southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country.