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UN Calls For ‘Emergency Measures’ to Enhance Situations in Greek Refugee Camps, Amid Overcrowding and Threat of Illness Outbreaks

UN Calls For ‘Emergency Measures’ to Improve Conditions in Greek Refugee Camps, Amid Overcrowding and Risk of Disease Outbreaks


The United Nations has referred to as for “decisive motion” to rectify unsafe and unsanitary situations on the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, in addition to at refugee facilities on 4 different islands, amid rising issues about illness outbreak within the camps.

The United Nations Refugee Company (UNHCR) “is urging Greece to accentuate efforts to handle alarming overcrowding and precarious situations for asylum seekers and migrants,” a spokesperson stated at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday. The UNHCR is calling on the Greek authorities to implement “emergency measures,” and “expedite its plans to switch a higher variety of asylum-seekers to acceptable lodging on the mainland.”

Since July 2019, the Moria camp has quadrupled in measurement and now hosts 18,342 individuals — in a facility initially constructed for two,200. 85% of individuals residing within the camp are refugees; the rest are categorised as migrants. A majority of these residing within the camp are households from Afghanistan and Syria, in addition to different nations within the Center East and Africa. A 3rd of the camp’s inhabitants is kids beneath the age of 12, in accordance with the UNHCR.

3,545 individuals have landed on Greece’s shores within the month of January 2020; that quantity stays on par with the whole of 59,000 individuals whose journey led them to Greece in 2019. Upon their arrival, refugees right this moment are unable to depart the camps as a consequence of an EU containment coverage which mandates their staying put whereas their asylum requests are processed. The state of affairs has left Greece’s asylum processing system overstretched, with a present backlog of 90,000 circumstances — which has resulted in some refugees spending over a yr within the camps.

In the meantime, situations proceed to deteriorate.

Ivan Romano—Getty Migrants stand close to an accumulation of rubbish within the stream of the Moria refugee camp on February 5, 2020 in Moria, Greece.

Whereas some estimates recommend Greece has obtained over $1.6 billion in monetary assist to assist refugees, refugee camps stay harmful and insufficient. On Lesbos, overcrowding has compelled refugees to hunt shelter in close by olive groves. Within the winter — when temperatures drop beneath freezing — refugees are compelled to construct fires of their skinny tents; women and women are significantly susceptible to sexual violence. Many ladies are terrified of utilizing bathrooms, showers, or getting meals in distribution strains, Human Rights Watch stories.

“The state of affairs [for] migrants, together with asylum seekers, within the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the previous 12 months,” the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, stated in October after visiting reception services on three Greek islands. Mijatović famous that there’s a drastic lack of medical care and sanitation within the camps, calling it “an explosive state of affairs.”

I’m an skilled physician, I’ve seen many sufferers in my life, however what I noticed there had me crying,” Dr. Hana Pospisilova, a volunteer on Lesbos, advised The Guardian. “In the event you examine Spanish flu it was precisely like this that [it] started to unfold, in overcrowded services the place individuals had a viral an infection that grew to become a bacterial an infection that killed them,” Pospisilova stated.

On Monday, Notis Mitarichi, the Greek Migration Minister introduced the federal government’s plan to arrange closed camps for asylum seekers in March. Refugees residing in closed camps are allowed to enter and go away the camp through the day, however can be locked in at night time. These camps, that are anticipated to accommodate 20,000 asylum seekers, have been developed in response to elevated aggression by locals, and current outbreaks of violence between refugees, locals and police authorities on the islands. Final week, a whole lot of asylum-seekers protested the Moria camp’s deteriorating situations in Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. Two riot police squads had been dispatched and fired tire gasoline at protesters.

Greek Police Clash With Migrants
Ivan Romano—Getty A migrant falls to the bottom whereas fleeing the demonstration on February 04, 2020 in Mytilene, Greece.

Because the Moria camp has grown and conditioned have worsened, native residents of the island have additionally reached their breaking level, resulting in an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment.

“The Lesbos neighborhood has been deserted by its personal authorities for nearly 5 years to take care of the results of a failed reception system,” Sophie McCann, a Médecins Sans Frontières employee advised the Guardian. “Just like the refugee neighborhood, it’s drained.”

The present conservative authorities, which has held energy since mid-2019, has taken a harder stance on migration. The federal government handed a regulation that toughened asylum necessities, elevated the variety of border patrols, and stated it desires to ship 200 rejected asylum-seekers again to Turkey each week. In January, the federal government pledged to construct a floating barrier to forestall smuggling boats from touchdown on Greece’s shores, sparking outcry from rights teams.

“This proposal marks an alarming escalation within the Greek authorities’s ongoing efforts to make it as tough as attainable for asylum-seekers and refugees to reach on its shores,” Amnesty Worldwide’s Analysis Director for Europe Massimo Moratti stated.

“We’re treating sufferers however no person is healed,” Pospisilova stated. “It’s unattainable to heal them in these situations.”