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    Afghan refugees facing problems in Greece: minister

    KABUL (PAN): Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are faced with a whole host of problems in Greece, a Cabinet minister said on Monday.

    Only 71 of the 65,000 Afghans, seeking asylum in that country, had been given citizenship, the refugees and repatriation affairs minister said.

    The refugees living in a park in Greece were tortured by police and nationalist parties, Jamahir Anwari told a news conference in Kabul.

    On his return from a visit to Turkey, Greece and Italy, he said: "Since Greece is facing an economic crisis, it cannot accept refugees of another country."

    He added they urged host officials to pave the ground for Afghans going to other countries that accepted refugees, instead of repatriating them to Afghanistan.

    The officials promised an immediate end to the Afghans' mistreatment at the hands of police and nationalists, he said. "Since Afghanistan has no political office in Greece, we cannot help refugees there."

    He complained officials at the Afghan embassy in Bulgaria did not help Afghans in Greece, and said he would raise the issue in the national assembly and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Anwari said he would also ask the foreign ministry to open a political office in Greece to help the refugees there. "When we asked the UN High Commissioner for Afghan Refugees in this regard, they had no answer to our queries."

    About his trip to Italy, he said the refugees living there had no problems and he was happy with the Turkish government for treating them humanely. "The Turkish government is giving a friendly treatment to Afghan refugees."

    frm/mud