UN refugee agency hails Greek decision to allow stowaways to disembark

16 March 2007

The United Nations refugee agency today welcomed the decision by Greek authorities to allow 16 mostly Iraqi stowaways aboard a cargo ship to disembark in the port of Piraeus and to be granted access to the country’s asylum system.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva that the stowaways are now in a reception centre awaiting processing after disembarking yesterday morning.

UNHCR stands ready to help the Greek authorities in any appropriate way,” Mr. Redmond said. On Tuesday the agency had called on Greece to let the stowaways disembark and claim asylum.

The stowaways, who include five children and two people with serious health conditions, apparently boarded the Antigua-flagged Rita, a cargo vessel, in Turkey. The ship arrived in Piraeus, near the Greek capital Athens, on 7 March. Late last week UNHCR and the Greek Refugee Council had access to the stowaways, most of whom expressed a desire to claim asylum.


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