Greece has announced that it will move 2,000 asylum seekers from the island of Lesbos to the mainland by the end of September. The move comes as Europe's senior migration official is visiting Greece and Cyprus, which is set to receive EU help to deal with a growing number of arrivals.
The Moria camp
on the island of Lesbos
- Greece’s biggest camp for migrants - is
currently operating at almost three times its capacity, with about 9,000 people
living in tents and shipping containers.
Last week more than a dozen human rights groups called on the Greek government to take action to make its migrant camps fit for people to live in.
The Medical charity MSF said on Monday that there was a health crisis in Moria. It also said that there were multiple cases each week of teenage camp residents who tried to commit suicide. MSF has also cited cases of sexual abuse in the camp.
A 19-year-old camp resident from Afghanistan told the AP news agency that asylum seekers have to stand in line for hours to get food.
The local governor in Lesbos threatened to shut the camp down within 30 days unless authorities clean up large amounts of waste there. The camp, which is a former military base, has raw sewage running out of its main entrance, AP reports.
Some 3,000 people were transferred from Moria to the mainland over the summer and another 700 people were moved last week, according to Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, a Greek government spokesman. A further 2,000 are to be moved by the end of this month.
The announcement came as the EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, traveled to Athens and Cyprus for separate talks.
EU to help Cyprus
Cyprus is to receive EU help to deal with an increase in the number of people arriving there to claim asylum.
After meetings with Cyprus’ interior, foreign and justice ministers, commissioner Avramopoulos said a team would be sent to the island soon to determine what assistance it needed.
“Cyprus is not alone. Europe is at its side,” he said on Tuesday.
Avramopoulos also met President Anastasiades to discuss migration and security cooperation.