Three years after the signing of the EU-Turkey deal, some 12,000 people are still holding out on the Greek islands' 'hotspots,' while thousands more live across the mainland in dire, unhealthy and dangerous conditions. Calling Greece a "dumping ground," Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called on European leaders to take action to end the "harmful policy of containment."
On the third anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal, signed on March 18, 2016, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called on European leaders to end ''the harmful policy of containment on the Greek islands' 'hotspots'". The organization also asked to guarantee the "immediate evacuation of all vulnerable people, especially children, from these locations to suitable accommodation on the Greek mainland or in other EU Member States."
MSF said that for the past three years the EU-Turkey deal has "trapped" thousands of men, women and children in "overcrowded, unsanitary, unsafe and degrading conditions." In an online statement released by the organization on Monday, MSF's Head of Mission in Greece, Emmanuel Goué, was quoted saying ''Greece has become a dumping ground for the men, women and children that the European Union has failed to protect,"
"What was once touted as a 'refugee emergency' has given way to inexcusable levels of human suffering across the Greek islands and on mainland Greece," MSF said in the statement. "The EU and Greek authorities continue to rob vulnerable people of their dignity and health, seemingly in an effort to deter others from coming. This policy is cruel, inhumane and cynical, and it needs to end," the statement said further. A reported 12,000 men, women and children are currently stranded on the five hotspots across the Greek islands in "dire conditions," MSF said.
In the Vathy camp on Samos for instance, the situation has deteriorated drastically in recent months "due to severe overcrowding." The camp is currently home to more than 4,112 people in a space built for just 648. MSF teams are also working on the islands of Lesbos and Chios where camps are "at a bursting point," the organization reported. The Moira camp on Lesbos hosts 5,225 people in a space meant for 3,100, while the camp of Vial on Chios hosts 1,361 people in a space build for just 1,014.
Over 5,000 arrivals reported in Greece in 2019
Although the overall number of arrivals has decreased significantly since 2016, more than 5,000 men, women and children have arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2019. The vast majority of arrivals are from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Democratic Republic of Congo. More than half of newcomers are women and children. "Three years on, the EU and the Greek government are still failing to provide dignified and humane living conditions and proper medical care to those trapped on the Greek islands," said Vasilis Stravaridis, General Director of MSF Greece.
On the Greek mainland, thousands of migrants who arrived after the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement are living in camps or temporary accommodation managed by the United Nations or by NGOs, while others are living in squats or sleep on the streets. All face obstacles in accessing medical care. MSF's psychological teams are assisting those with mental disorders, like depression, anxiety and psychosis, as well as helping torture survivors. Therapists say their patients' living conditions are their biggest challenge.