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Greece’s Intervention to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Ambassadors’ round table on Migration

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Greece’s Intervention to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies  Ambassadors’ round table on Migration

Mr Secretary General, Excellencies, distinguished representatives,

First of all, allow me to thank the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Secretary General personally for organizing this very timely discussion. Today, the refugee/migration issue does not only affect Europe as a whole but the entire international community. In our view, the refugee crisis represents a major challenge that we can overcome only if we work closely together, in partnership, in a spirit of solidarity and remain united in our efforts. In this light, we are looking forward to the Conference of Vallettaearly next month when European and African partners will reaffirm their mutually beneficial cooperation and will try to address human trafficking and the wider migratory-refugee issues.

As you very well know, Greece has been -throughout its history- in the frontline of unprecedented migratory and refugee inflows.Since the beginning of this year, _inflows have reached 500.000 persons._ Despite the financial constraints and challenges that we face but with the help of EU institutions and humanitarian actors*, we have been working on increasing our reception capacity and our civil society has been tirelessly struggling to keep its humanity, in order to help refugees and migrants, though constantly tested by the current economic crisis.* Needless to say, all this response has become possible at a heavy financial and social price. Our preliminary calculations bring the total cost since the beginning of the year close to 1 billion €. All the same, in this crucial context the Greek coast guard has been sparing no effort to save thousands of human lives at sea. For example, during just the last nine months Greek coast guard has saved close to 77,000 lives in the Aegean. That is why I am very glad to be here today to commend the efforts of the Red Cross Movement and namely the IFRC which has set the “saving of lives” as its main motto and humanitarian priority.

My country very much appreciates the multifaceted humanitarian work performed by the International Federation inGreece supporting the National Society. And with this opportunity, we would like to thank also the other National Societies which have so far generously contributed to the IFRC’s relevantoperation in Greece.

Let me take this opportunity to stress that the Greek authorities as well as the National Red Cross, are looking forward to receiving you on the 3rd of November when you will be visiting Greece.

With the purpose to enrich today’s discussion, we would like to ask you to elaborate more on the content of standard criteria for humanitarian interventions that the different humanitarian actors agree upon in the areas of intervention, as you mention for example in your revised emergency appeal for Greece*, and what the local authorities can do to help the humanitarian response become more effective in the affected areas?

Thank you.

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