Refugees from Afghanistan on Lesbos island, North Aegean Sea, Greece. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/EPA
Refugees from Afghanistan on Lesbos island, North Aegean Sea, Greece. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/EPA

UNHCR has launched another warning about deteriorating living conditions of migrants on the Greek islands Samos and Lesbos, calling them ''abhorrent''.

Conditions for 11,000 refugees and migrants in the Reception and Identification Centers (RICs) on the Greek islands of Samos and Lesbos are ''abhorrent'', the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a statement issued on Tuesday. UNHCR said that families lack electricity, running water and functioning toilets, that they live in areas filled with snakes and that uncollected waste has led to a large number of rats. 

Overcrowded centers 

The RICS suffer severe overcrowding. In the one on Samos in Vathy, about 4,000 people are kept, 6 times more than its capacity. On Lesbos, there are 6,500 people, 3 times more than capacity. ''With winter approaching and more people arriving, time is of the essence and emergency measures are needed,'' the statement said. ''Many of the toilets and showers are broken, resulting in open sewage close to people's tents. Others are using nearby bushes as a toilet,'' UNHCR said. 

'Accelerate transfers' 

''Many of the asylum-seekers arrive in Greece in a vulnerable state, but even those who turn up at the RIC in good condition soon find themselves suffering from health problems. A single doctor per shift provides medical care to the entire population and often only the most urgent cases get seen,'' the UN refugee agency noted.''Vulnerable asylum-seekers - including some 200 unaccompanied children, over 60 pregnant women, the disabled and survivors of sexual violence - are left at risk in the RIC as alternative accommodation places on the island are taken,'' it added. 

For these reasons, UNHCR is urging Greece to improve conditions in the camps and to speed up transfers of refugees to the mainland. ''As well as appealing to the Greek authorities UNHCR is also calling on the European Commission and Member States, to continue preparations for emergency support and relocation measures at the request of the Greek government,'' it added.

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