After the hellish Moria migrant camp burned down in September on the Greek island of Lesbos, instigating international outcry at the inhumane conditions asylum seekers were forced to live in, temporary replacement camp sees conditions deteriorate.
By Democracy Center for Transparency
(October 22, 2020 – Berlin) NGOs Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees reported on Tuesday that conditions in Moria’s replacement camp, an informal settlement on a former shooting range meant to provide temporary shelter to the 13,000 people left homeless after a fire, are worse than at the original camp. Over 7,500 individuals have been forcibly housed in tents unfit for weather conditions, often flood with just 10 minutes of rain, despite the oncoming winter months. With some tents just twenty meters away from the ocean, the camp is reported to hold hardly any running water during a pandemic, limited healthcare services, and no access to legal aid, making mobility more difficult to achieve than ever. Similarly, the dismal lack of toilets and showers expose residents to increased risks of sexual and gender-based violence. Some desperate residents have taken to bathing and washing in the nearby sea, facing the risk of drowning, as well as catching disease, as the camp’s wastewater is drained in the sea. Children and adults must wait in line to fill their container with cold water from a hose, with no physical distancing or sanitization measures possible throughout the camp.
While Germany has increased its initial pledge to take in 150 refugees to 1,600, there are still 7,500 individuals unable to escape these deteriorating conditions, who are seriously at risk for massive covid-19 exposures. At the same time, the Guardian has reported that two other camps set up on Lesvos specifically for vulnerable people are set to close as early as next week. Lower Saxony’s interior minister Pistorius Friday criticized the unwillingness of other EU countries to take in refugees as “shameful,” with large EU states such as Britain refusing to take in any of the asylum seekers. With no current EU-wide standards for refugee housing, “mass accommodation, whether in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, is neither humane nor is it possible to comply with infection protection or even minimal hygiene requirements,” added SPD politician Aziz Bozkurt.
While 85% of the world’s refugees, as reported by Amnesty International, are housed in developing countries, EU states have turned their efforts to disincentivize persecuted people to seek shelter in the European Union, and establish migration cooperation with source locations regardless of human rights records. Well into five years of what is referred to as the 2015 refugee crisis, disagreements are still blocking urgent reforms to EU asylum laws, and a system of distribution throughout the region has not been established, leading to mass overcrowding at landing sites and inaccessibility to crucial resources that will continue to worsen unless priorities shift and bilateral agreements are finally reached.