The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says European governments must do more to help refugees dying in Europe's sudden cold snap instead of pushing them back from borders and exposing them to violence and confiscations.
"Given the harsh winter conditions, we are particularly concerned by reports that authorities in all countries along the Western Balkans route continue to push back refugees and migrants from inside their territory to neighboring countries," UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said on Friday.
She added that five refugees have so far lost their lives from cold and said some 1,000 people, including children, were in unheated tents and dormitories on the Greek island of Samos and need to be transferred to shelter on the mainland.
She said the bodies of two Iraqi men and a young Somali woman were found close to the Turkish border in Bulgaria and two Somali teenagers were hospitalized with frostbite after five days in a forest.
The body of a young Pakistani refugee was found along the same border in late December, she added.