A young refugee in a makeshift camp set outside the refugee camp of Moria, on the Lesvos island, Greece.PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU
A young refugee in a makeshift camp set outside the refugee camp of Moria, on the Lesvos island, Greece.PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

The Norwegian Refugee Council is calling on Europe to increase its support for refugees in Greece before winter arrives and threatens their lives in the camps, which have been determined to be insufficient to face the cold.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is warning Europe that refugee camps in Greece are ill-equipped to handle the upcoming winter season. 


"Unless Europe urgently steps up its support to tens of thousands of refugees in Greece, harsh winter conditions may claim lives of vulnerable families living in squalid conditions," NRC said in a statement. 

It said the situation is becoming increasingly desperate for thousands of children, women and men whose futures lie in limbo on the Greek islands and the mainland. 

'A preventable human catastrophe'

NRC said the Moria camp in Lesbos has nearly 9,000 refugees and migrants living in a space with facilities meant for maximum 3,000 people. "We're facing a preventable human catastrophe. The refugee camp in Lesbos is bursting beyond capacity, and conditions are worsening by the week. As many as 150 people have arrived on a single day," said NRC's director for its expert deployment capacity, NORCAP, Benedicte Giaever, who visited Greece last week. 

Insufficient supplies for winter 

The organization said the refugee camps are preparing for winter, but the camps do not have enough blankets, winter clothes, or space for families residing within them. It said nearly 30 people share a toilet at the Moria camp, and water and sanitation facilities are woefully inadequate. There is also a lack of space to put up more facilities. 

"Greece has done its utmost to keep its borders open, but cannot handle this crisis alone. Other European countries must step up and take their share of responsibility both through financial support and expertise on the ground," Giaever said. 

"Although refugees are painfully aware of dismal conditions in the camps before fleeing their home countries, many still choose to take the risk. However, with winter fast approaching, people are becoming increasingly vulnerable and conditions will fast deteriorate unless we act now," Giaever said. 
 

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