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Refugee Crisis in Europe

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More than 90% of arrivals to Greece to March 2016 are from the top ten refugee producing countries.

 
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Our target is $2,000,000

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Overview

Refugees in the Middle East and Europe are living in poverty and desperately need your help.

Worsening conditions for refugees in Syria and the region are driving despair and sending thousands of people towards Europe. More than 90% of refugees arriving in Greece by March 2016 were from the top ten refugee producing countries. 60% of arrivals were women and children.

Within Syria, 6.5 million people have been forced from their homes. A quarter of schools have been damaged or shut down and more than half of Syria’s hospitals have been destroyed. Outside of the country there are 4.6 million Syrian refugees. With their savings drained and employment opportunities thin on the ground, Syrian refugee families are sliding into poverty.

The effects of poverty and lack of opportunity is having a devastating effect on refugee families in the Middle East and Europe. Refugees travelling across open ground in Europe are being exposed to freezing temperatures and rain with little to no protection from the elements. Refugee families living in camps and settlements across the Middle East do not have adequeate shelter, savings or the opportunity to go to school or earn an income.

UNHCR is on the ground at every stage of the refugee journey providing desperately needed support – inside Syria, in neighbouring countries and beyond. Please give refugees fleeing conflict countries the help they desperately need.

Note: Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australia for UNHCR will direct donations to our Emergency Programs for Refugees to enable us to rapidly address future emergencies as they occur.

How we help

UNHCR is providing shelter, food, water and medical care to refugees on the ground in Syria, in neighbouring countries and in Europe.

  • We have delivered 361,000 thermal blankets, 800,000 raincoats and 340,000 blankets, sleeping bags and 43,900 sleeping mats to refugees in Europe alone.
  • UNHCR is providing life-saving aid, counselling services and protection to refugees arriving at European ports and shorelines.
  • Throughout host countries of Syrian refugees in the Middle East, we are delivering winter survival kits which include sleeping bags, thermal blankets, socks, clothing and footwear.
  • We are also weather-proofing shelters and tents with plastic sheeting, foam boards, floor mats and stoves and heaters to ensure that refugees are living in warm and dry accommodation

All of this aid is provided on top of the assistance that UNHCR is already delivering, including food, water, medical aid and assistance with finding safe refuge and a permanent home for refugee families.

Please help us deliver life-saving aid for refugees in the Middle East and Europe. Donate now.

Note: Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australia for UNHCR will direct donations to our Emergency Programs for Refugees to enable us to rapidly address future emergencies as they occur.

News

France: Increased refugee integration - good for economy, good for society, says UNHCR & OECD - 29 January 2016

Two leading international organizations, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today called on governments to step up efforts to help refugees integrate and contribute to the societies and economies of Europe.

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Europe: UNHCR alarmed at the plight of refugees and migrants at Bulgaria borders - 29 January 2016

The UN Refugee Agency is extremely alarmed at reports of two dead bodies being found on the Bulgarian border with Serbia, last week. UNHCR is seeking further details after being alerted about the deaths by the Bulgarian Border Police. The two men, apparently, have died of cold while trying to cross into Serbia from Western Bulgaria.

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Europe: UNHCR, IOM seek US$550 million to aid refugees and migrants - 27 January 2016

As continuing conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere drives people to seek refuge in Europe, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, and some 65 other organizations have appealed to donors for US$550 million to support the ongoing humanitarian response.

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Europe: Refugee women on the move are at risk, says UN - 21 January 2016

Refugee and migrant women and girls on the move in Europe face grave risks of sexual and gender-based violence, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) highlighted in a joint report issued today.

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Latvia: Volunteers tackle prejudice against refugees - 15 January 2016

It once hosted parties for the Baltic and Russian aristocracy. Now the Kanepes cultural centre, an elegant building in central Riga, echoes with the sound of excited children baking traditional ginger biscuits and making gingerbread houses.

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Greece: From refugee life vest to sleeping aid - 15 January 2016

Vast piles of lifejackets clogging the idyllic beaches of the Greek island of Lesvos are testimony to an often harrowing journey made by thousands of refugees and migrants crossing to Europe.

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Greece: How UNHCR helps to change young lives on Lesvos - 12 January 2016

Whenever Huda Al-Shabsogh, a UNHCR field officer on the Greek island of Lesvos, entered the closed facility for unaccompanied minors at the Moria reception and registration centre for refugees, scores of children erupted in excitement. "Auntie! Auntie!" they shouted happily in Arabic. "How are you today?"

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Geneva: Solutions needed to stem global refugee crisis, says Grandi - 8 January 2016

With record numbers of refugees and displaced people worldwide, the new head of the UN Refugee Agency Filippo Grandi has urged greater diplomatic efforts to find solutions to conflicts and abuses driving people from their home.

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Europe: Over one million refugees reached Europe by sea in 2015 - 4 January 2016

Over one million refugees and migrants have fled to Europe by sea this year, many on board dangerously inadequate vessels run by people smugglers, according to figures just released by the UN Refugee Agency.

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Europe: Refugees and migrants need protection and respect for their human rights - 10 December 2015

Ahead of Human Rights Day, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the head of the 47-nation Council of Europe have urged European states to honour their international commitments to guarantee basic human rights for refugees and migrants. They also called on governments, civil society and media professionals to step up efforts to counter racism and xenophobia, which can undermine support for asylum and protection.

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Europe: Thousands of refugees still at Greek-FYR Macedonia border - 7 December 2015

Thousands of refugees and migrants were stuck at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday following tense protests which prevented anyone from crossing for more than 24 hours.

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Europe: UNHCR says most of Syrians arriving in Greece are students - 9 December 2015

The Mediterranean crossing is treacherous, the risk of drowning is constant. But still they come, day after day, in a fleet of dinghies spilling them onto the shores of Greek Islands near Turkey, almost 800,000 so far in 2015 alone.

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Germany: Syrian refugees try cycling for the first time in Berlin - 27 November 2015

At the age of 27, Shiraz, a Syrian asylum-seeker in Germany, was cycling for the first time. It was all thanks to the encouragement of Berlin-based volunteers, who had spent the last four Saturday mornings coaching her on how to get about on two wheels.

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Europe: Fast Retailing (Uniqlo) and UNHCR Announce New Agreement - 27 November 2015

Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., which owns the UNIQLO clothing chain, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today jointly announce a new agreement to support refugees worldwide. The Tokyo-based company will provide US$10 million in funds and distribute winter wear for new arrivals in Europe, and expanding its internship program both in Japan and abroad.

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Europe: UNHCR flags problems at crossings from Greece to the Balkans - 27 November 2015

The UN refugee agency has warned that a fresh humanitarian situation is developing at border crossings from Greece into the Balkans, where new and uncoordinated restrictions have led scores of people to protest by going on hunger strike and several to sew their mouths shut.

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Europe: Refugee families brace for winter - 26 November 2015

Twenty one-year-old Fatima and her husband Mohamed will never forget that terrible night last winter when their family tent collapsed on them in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. The couple, their three small children and Fatima’s mother had only recently fled from Syria to Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. They were huddled inside their temporary shelter, trying to protect the children from the cold, when the roof gave way under the weight of heavy snow.

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Greece: Afghan refugee uses language skills to help doctors treat arrivals - 23 November 2015

Amena Yusufi, a 21-year-old woman from Afghanistan, stepped out of a medical tent on Lesvos' busy Moria reception and registration centre and called for the next patient. A mother and her baby stepped forward.

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Europe: New Balkan border restrictions untenable - 23 November 2015

A range of new restrictions against the movement of refugees and migrants from Greece through the Western Balkans and further northwards is increasingly untenable, the UN refugee agency, the International Organisation for Migration and the UN children's fund said on Friday.

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Europe: UNHCR chief says it is "absolute nonsense" to blame refugees for terror - 18 November 2015

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said today it was "absolute nonsense" to try to blame refugees for terror attacks, stressing that they were its "first victims" and could not be held responsible for what happened in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere.

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Geneva: After Paris attacks, refugees should not be turned into scapegoats - 18 November 2015

The UN refugee agency has expressed its shock and horror at the attacks in Paris and the killing of so many innocent people, and cautioned against the scapegoating of refugees.

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Greece: A childhood regained on Kos - 17 November 2015

Although he is only 14 years old, Samir's face shows a maturity and a seriousness well beyond his age. He has experienced far too much for a child.

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Greece: Some 3,300 people a day still arriving on Lesvos - 17 November 2015

With winter closing in, more than 3,000 people a day are still arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos despite dangerous sea conditions and overstretched and inadequate reception facilities, the UN refugee agency said today.

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Europe: UNHCR launches appeal to aid refugees as winter hits - 6 November 2015

With thousands of refugees and migrants continuing to arrive in Europe via the Mediterranean each day as winter approaches, the UN refugee agency is appealing to donors for US$96.15 million in additional support for Greece and affected countries in the Balkans.

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Europe: First asylum-seekers relocate from Greece to Luxembourg - 5 November 2015

It was the crack of dawn when 30 asylum-seekers from Syria and Iraq gathered around the departure gate at Athens International Airport on Wednesday, bound for a new life in a new land.

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Germany: Shaken by war, Syrian children start over at school - 30 October 2015

Leen flings open the school doors after her German language class and runs out, clearly delighting in her new surroundings despite a cold rush of autumn air.

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Europe: Worsening weather brings more tragedy to eastern Aegean - 30 October 2015

At least 15 people died, several of them children, and some 38 others are missing in five incidents involving smuggler boats carrying hundreds of refugees and migrants across a wind-whipped channel between Turkey and the Greek islands, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

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Europe: Fearing rough seas, refugees chance Bulgaria land route - 27 October 2015

When he set out from war-ravaged Syria for Europe, Aleppo truck driver Faisal, his wife Frida and their four daughters considered piling into a boat to cross the Mediterranean but rejected it: None of them could swim.

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Europe: UNHCR concerned at reports of sexual violence against refugee women and children - 27 October 2015

The UN refugee agency said today it was concerned by "credible testimonies" it has received of sexual violence and abuse against refugee and migrant women and children on the move in Europe and called on authorities to take steps to ensure their protection.

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Serbia: Refugees face long cold and wet night at crowded Balkan border crossings - 27 October 2015

It is 6 pm, and night is falling fast. Amr and his family huddle under a makeshift shelter, partially lit by a nearby fire, on a small hill near the Serbian-Croatian border.

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Geneva: UNHCR flags winter relief operations for refugees - 27 October 2015

The UN refugee agency said today it had begun distributing raincoats, blankets and other relief items to tens of thousands of refugees buffeted by the first winter storms that have already struck many parts of Central and South Eastern Europe, along with freezing temperatures.

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Germany: Confronting challenges for refugees at end of the road - 21 October 2015

Selwa sighed heavily sitting on a mattress with Renham, her energetic seven-year old daughter. The farmer abandoned her treasured land, livestock, fruit trees and two elder children, to make the dangerous journey from the Ghouta suburbs outside the Syrian capital Damascus, to Germany.

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Greece: Number of sea arrivals hits half million mark - 21 October 2015

Sea arrivals so far this year to Greece have now passed the half-million mark with the arrival yesterday on the Aegean Islands of nearly 8,000 people, the UN refugee agency said today.

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Greece: Seven people die off Lesvos as tensions flare at crowded reception facility - 19 October 2015

Authorities in Greece have reported up to seven people were killed – four of them children – in a collision between a smuggling boat and a Greek Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Lesvos, the UN refugee agency said today.

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Geneva: UNHCR backs increased protection for people fleeing disasters and climate change - 15 October 2015

The UN refugee agency has joined 110 nations in pledging to strengthen steps to protect people displaced across borders by disasters and climate change and launched an overview highlighting its work in the area.

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Europe: an Afghan baby's trip to safety - 15 October 2015

Surrounded by children's toys and loving smiles, five-week-old Mahdia lies comfortably on a white embroidered cloth with a lace trim. However, her peaceful, satisfied eyes are in sharp contrast to the reality of her harsh, new environment.

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Austria: Refugees themselves, Iraqis volunteer to help others reach safety - 13 October 2015

Childhood friends Hussein and Jaffa fled war ravaged Iraq together, crossing seven borders and the Aegean Sea to seek refuge in Europe. As they seek asylum in Austria, they decided to help those following in their tracks.

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Europe: UNHCR head thanks Greece, frontline islands, for improved response to continuing arrivals - 12 October 2015

In a weekend mission to the main EU entry point for nearly 450,000 refugees and migrants so far this year, UNHCR chief António Guterres witnessed the improved humanitarian response mounted by Greek local authorities and civil society while lamenting the continued lack of a large-scale and effective European response.

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Europe: UNHCR's Türk warns against growing politicization of refugee and asylum matters - 12 October 2015

UNHCR's top International Protection expert warned today of growing risks to people fleeing war and persecution, and said a renewed spirit of commitment from governments worldwide to the core human rights and rule of law principles on which the international refugee system is based is becoming urgently needed.

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Europe: UNHCR head Guterres urges massive EU response to help Greece attend to refugees - 12 October 2015

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today appealed to the European Union to provide "massive support" to Greece to meet the needs of up to 6,000 refugees arriving each day as winter looms across Europe.

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Greece: Refugee sea arrivals this year approach 400,000 - 6 October 2015

The UN refugee agency said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015.

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Geneva: UN High Commissioner calls for renewed international focus on Afghanistan - 7 October 2015

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today appealed to the international community to refocus its attention on Afghanistan, warning that it would be dangerous to ignore the country, and praised Iran and Pakistan for hosting so many Afghan refugees.

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Geneva: Guterres says UNHCR and partners struggle to meet humanitarian needs - 6 October 2015

The global refugee crisis is so great that the UN refugee agency and other agencies are struggling to respond to and meet all the humanitarian needs they face.

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Croatia: Thousands of refugees fleeing war triggering sad memories of own recent past - 23 September 2015

In their thousands they streamed across a disused, now re-opened Croatian border post at Bapcek: Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis fleeing war in the Middle East into a country where the memories of its own conflict in the early-90s are still raw and vivid.

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Syria: Refugee crisis spreads across the sea - 24 September 2015

“If there was hope the war would be over in two years, I would be patient and stay. I would go back to Syria, even if I had nothing. But nobody is being left alone to live. Everything in the country is being destroyed.”

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Europe: UNHCR welcomes more EU support to refugees, urges fast implementation - 25 September 2015

The UN refugee agency today welcomed a decision by European Union leaders to boost resources for humanitarian assistance to countries neighbouring war-torn Syria.

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Europe: Over 1,000 people wait for buses at Bapska border crossing between Croatia and Serbia - 25 September 2015

More than a thousand refugees and migrants waited under the searing sun all Wednesday at the newly blocked Serbia-Croatia border crossing near Bapska -- hot, distressed and increasingly worried that their trek to safety had been halted in its tracks.

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Syria: Loss of hope and deepening poverty driving Syrians to seek refuge in Europe - 28 September 2015

The UN refugee agency today identified loss of hope and appalling living conditions as major factors behind the recent spike in the number of Syrian refugees from the region seeking asylum in Europe.

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Europe: Thousands continue to flee wars and cross borders in search for a new life in safety - 28 September 2015

They continue to come in their thousands, Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis and others, in an ever-shifting pattern across the Serbia-Croatia border, most fleeing conflict and persecution hoping their onward journey will deliver them to a place where they can pick up the pieces of their lives.

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Europe: Women and children arrive exhausted into Austrian town to warm welcome - 28 September 2015

They stride, sometimes even stumble, over the Austrian border and into the picture postcard town of Nickelsdorf. Among them are women and children, many of whom have been travelling for days, weeks, even months. They fled their war-torn homelands, trekking across Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans.

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Europe: Losing hope and fearful for their families, skilled Syrians join refugee exodus - 29 September 2015

It's the picture-perfect image of a Greek island holiday. A solitary man enjoys his morning coffee on the sun-drenched terrace of a hillside hotel overlooking the blue Aegean. The Turkish coast shimmers in the distance. A herd of goats, bells tinkling, grazes nearby. But this man is no tourist. He's a middle-aged Syrian doctor from Damascus who has just safely led his wife and three young children on a journey through hell.

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Austria: Salzburg, taken aback by number of refugees, scrambles to set up reception facilities - 29 September 2015

Nobody in Salzburg ever expected the refugee crisis to hit this close to home. So when Michael Haybäck, the city's director of public order, received a call at 8.30pm one night in early September, he had to think fast.

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Mediterranean: Another weekend of tragedy with at least 40 refugees dead or missing - 21 September 2015

UNHCR staff on Sunday were caring for survivors of two separate weekend incidents involving boats carrying refugees and migrants between Turkey and Greece that left some 40 people dead or missing.

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Europe: Time running out to resolve refugee emergency - 21 September 2015

Following yesterday's mayhem on the Serbian border with Croatia, which has closed some entry points, the UN refugee agency today issued a stark warning that time was running out for Europe to resolve the current refugee crisis.

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Mediterranean: another weekend of tragedy - 18 September 2015

Tragedy marked the Mediterranean again last weekend as two more boats capsized in Greek waters, killing 39 people, including 15 children and four babies.

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Europe: UNHCR urges Europe to change course on refugee crisis - 18 September 2015

UNHCR reiterates its deep conviction that only a united European emergency response can address the present refugee and migration crisis. Individual measures by individual countries will not solve the problem but will make an already chaotic situation worse, further the suffering of people and increase tension amongst states at a time when Europe needs more solidarity and trust.

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Europe: Robust, coherent response to refugee crisis still urgently needed - 18 September 2015

Reiterating its call for a robust and coherent European response to the current refugee crisis, the UN refugee agency today expressed deep disappointment that European Union member states failed to reach agreement over a wider relocation plan of up to 120,000 people.

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Geneva: UNHCR names Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi its 2015 Nansen Refugee Award Winner - 15 September 2015

Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi, who has dedicated her life to bringing education to refugee girls in Pakistan, has won the 2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.

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Syria: Worsening conditions in the region fuel despair, driving thousands towards Europe - 9 September 2015

Deteriorating conditions in Syria and neighbouring countries are driving thousands of Syrians to risk everything on perilous journeys to Europe, the UN refugee agency cautioned on Tuesday. As the crisis digs deeper into its fifth year with no sign of a political solution in sight, despair is on the rise and hope is in short supply.

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Europe: UNHCR urges full and swift implementation of European Commission proposals on refugee crisis - 14 September 2015

The UN refugee agency today welcomed the European Commission's proposals unveiled on Wednesday to address the current refugee crisis in Europe. "Given the urgency of the situation, these proposals need to be implemented fully and swiftly," UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told a press briefing in Geneva.

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Europe: UNHCR statement ahead of EU Council of Interior Ministers Meeting - 14 September 2015

The recent successive announcements of different border control measures by a number of European countries impacted by the refugee and migration crisis only underlines the urgency of establishing a comprehensive European response.

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Serbia-Hungary: Frustrated refugees and migrants at border seek to escape poor reception conditions - 10 September 2015

It was a rallying cry and a cry of frustration: "Budapest, Budapest!" At 5 p.m., on a back road crossing disused train tracks a kilometre from the border with Serbia, a crowd of refugees and migrants pushed up against two dozen Hungarian policemen.

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Europe: Statement by Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Refugee Crisis - 10 September 2015

We have met the authorities here in Budapest and have offered UNHCR's assistance to deal with the increasing number of refugees and migrants arriving in Hungary.

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Europe: At Serbian border, flow of refugees continued unabated into Hungary - 10 September 2015

Train tracks connect the two countries, and a razor wire fence separates them. But the razor wire opens for the tracks, and groups – sometimes even crowds – of refugees simply walk through.

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Europe: Mediterranean crisis sees former Vietnamese boat person break long silence on her experiences - 7 July 2015

Harrowing images of the Mediterranean boat crisis has brought back "bitter sweet" memories for Anh Lê, one of Denmark's most famous Vietnamese restaurateurs, who crossed oceans herself to arrive where she is today.

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Europe: Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres on refugee crisis in Europe - 7 September 2015

The European Union is preparing key emergency meetings to take decisions in its response to the present refugee and migration crisis. The situation requires a massive common effort that is not possible with the current fragmented approach.

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UNHCR viewpoint: 'Refugee' or 'migrant' - Which is right? - 28 August 2015

With almost 60 million people forcibly displaced globally and boat crossings of the Mediterranean in the headlines almost daily, it is becoming increasingly common to see the terms 'refugee' and 'migrant' being used interchangeably in media and public discourse. But is there a difference between the two, and does it matter?

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Europe: UNHCR chief issues key guidelines for dealing with refugee crisis - 7 September 2015

The head of the UN refugee agency António Guterres, emphasizing the European Union faced a "defining moment", has laid out a set of key guidelines which he says should underpin all efforts to resolve the current refugee and migration crisis facing Europe.

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Europe: UNHCR applauds Austria and Germany as refugees march across Hungary - 7 September 2015

It was a remarkable and unexpected display of refugee power – the power of the powerless. It began at noon on September 4 with a spontaneous march out of Budapest down the highway towards the Austrian border by more than 1,000 frustrated refugees. They were marching in protest at the Hungarian government's blanket refusal to let them take trains to Austria and Germany.

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Europe: Crossings of Mediterranean Sea exceed 300,000, including 200,000 to Greece - 31 August 2015

More than 300,000 refugees and migrants have used the dangerous sea route across the Mediterranean so far this year with almost 200,000 of them landing in Greece and a further 110,000 in Italy.

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Europe: UNHCR assists refugees at Greece-FYR Macedonia border, where calm is returning - 26 August 2015

The UN refugee agency has been helping refugees and migrants amid chaotic scenes in the past few days at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as thousands of people tried to cross into FYR Macedonia.

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Europe: UNHCR urges humane treatment for refugees, urges collective action on issue - 26 August 2015

The UN refugee agency stressed on Tuesday that it was working closely with the Serb authorities to help meet the needs of more than 10,000 refugees and others who have arrived in Serbia in recent days following dramatic scenes at the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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Europe: UNHCR concerned about developments at border of Greece and FYR Macedonia - 24 August 2015

The UN refugee agency expressed concern today over the increasingly precarious situation at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia), where force was used earlier to prevent people trying to cross.

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FYR Macedonia: the 'Angel of Refugees' for those travelling the Balkan route - 31 July 2015

Exhausted refugees walking with nothing but a backpack along railway tracks, some with confused small children clinging onto their chests; pregnant women making their way through scorching temperatures, fighting fatigue, blisters, and above all sorrow. This was the view from Lenche Zdrakin's window.

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Italy: Rescue teams give dignified burial to refugee shipwreck victims - 13 July 2015

Six victims of a shipwreck in which an estimated 800 fleeing people drowned in the Mediterranean were buried in Italy on Thursday (July 9), nearly three months after their deaths. The bodies were recovered by the Italian navy from the wreck around 380 metres below sea level.

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Italy: Syrian Refugees Struggle to Reach Family in Malta - 8 September 2015

For Ali and Mohammad, both 23, the hardest part of their journey should have been over once they'd escaped hardship, cruelty and violence in the ancient and embattled Syrian city of Palmyra.

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