Children in their containers in the Identification Center of Moria, Lesbos | Photo: Archive/Panagiotis Balaskas
Children in their containers in the Identification Center of Moria, Lesbos | Photo: Archive/Panagiotis Balaskas

Greece's national public health body and Doctors of the World are carrying out a 5-day vaccination program for children and teenagers at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos. Separately, new EU border agency Frontex regulations have come into force.

On Tuesday, Greece began to roll out a vaccination program for children and teenagers staying at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos. They are receiving the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines and the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV).

The country's National Organisation for Public Health (EODY) is running the program from December 10 to December 14 in cooperation with Doctors of the World teams. According to the partners, virtually all the children and teenagers living in the camp will have been vaccinated once the program is completed.

Camp long critizised for poor conditions

The Moria camp has been repeatedly criticized by humanitarian agencies, NGOs and media observers for its poor living conditions and hopeless overcrowding. The former military camp opened in 2015, at the height of the so-called refugee crisis, as a center to register new arrivals. However, its population is now more than four times its capacity, with over 12,000 people - mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - staying at the facility.

In recent months, there have been frequent incidents of violence including clashes between rival ethnic groups and with local police forces. Despite the state-run program to speed up the transfers of people from the camp to the Greek mainland for alternative accommodation, the number of arrivals still exceeds the number of those brought to the mainland.

New Frontex regulations in force

Meanwhile, the influx of migrants on boats from the Turkish coast continues. In other news, new regulations by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, came into force last week.
The new regulations increase the agency's participation in border surveillance and support for EU member states and Schengen countries. It furthermore paves the way for the creation of Europe's first uniformed service, which will include approximately 10,000 border and coast guard officers.

Their role will be to help the local and national authorities with measures to tighten border control and "migration management."

Frontex aims for 'sustainable border management'

In a press release, Frontex said it will also "assist in the reintegration of returnees in non-EU countries and continue to fight cross-border crime, including in the maritime domain."

"We will play a bigger role in the management of the growing flows of legitimate travelers across EU's external borders, hosting the future central unit of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), and supporting member states with the deployment of the Entry-Exit-System," Frontex added.

Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said: "With our own standing corps and own equipment, Frontex will be a daily partner for national authorities to design sustainable border management capacities rather than simply responding in a crisis management mode, while it will also share relevant information and regular risk analyses." 

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