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Seven of the top NGOs which are helping refugees in Greece have issued a joint statement to express their worries about the upcoming handover of responsibilities at migrant camps on the country's islands to the government at the beginning of August.

The Syriza-led government has been heavily criticized by both human rights groups such as Amnesty International as well as opposition party New Democracy for its handling of the ongoing migrant crisis, particularly on the 'frontline' in the Eastern Aegean. 

Poor conditions in pre-departure centres 

The poor living conditions at overcrowded camps and so-called pre-departure detention centres have been widely documented with many thousands of people having diminished access to essential services.

"In less than two weeks the management and coverage of the needs of the people remaining on the islands as well as the 2,250 unaccompanied children across Greece are to be transferred to the Greek state; however, to date, there is insufficient information on how this transition is planned to be implemented in practice," said the statement, which was backed by Doctors of the World, Doctors Without Borders, Care, Save The Children, and Solidarity Now, among others.

Coherent plan for migrant transition

Even now the first problems have begun to make their appearance. In Lesvos, for example, since the end of May, when Doctors of the World completed their intervention, they found huge deficiencies in the provision of health and psychological and psychosocial support services. 

"Also, on Chios and around the rest of Greece, there are significant problems regarding the protection of unaccompanied children. Five unaccompanied children's homes are about to be closed, which reduces the availability of suitable hosting facilities", the statement said.

The NGOs called on the government with the help of the EU authorities, to create and make public "an adequate and coherent plan for the transition to the new refugee management and coverage regime", with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Opposition criticism 

Opposition party New Democracy have been consistently scathing in their criticism of Syriza's handling of the refugee situation, releasing another strongly-worded statement on Tuesday after a huge fire caused severe damage to the Moria camp on Lesvos following ugly clashes between disenchanted migrants and police.

In positive recent developments, however, Lesvos and Chios have been boosted by the news on Monday that they are to receive an aid package of 6.48 million euros to help improve reception conditions for refugees and migrants stranded there.

The two Eastern Aegean islands have borne the brunt of the influx of refugees crossing into Europe from Turkey since the migrant crisis began in 2015. And the European Commission announced a significant new aid package to help the authorities cope with the ongoing problems and the backlog of asylum-seeking refugees stranded at various camps on both of the islands.
 

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