Since the start of this year, two people have died after being stabbed in the Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the main reason for the surge in violence is the severe overcrowding of the camp, with just 2,800 places available for the more than 19,000 people living there.
"Since I arrived in Moria, there's not a day that goes by without a fight breaking out,” recounts 32-year-old Issouf* from Burkina Faso. Issouf arrived in the camp a few weeks ago, and says he fears for his safety on a daily basis. "Every day, someone is injured."
Since the start of this year, the camp has been plagued by violence. Two migrants have already been killed, and "at least six others have been injured," Ihab Abassi, a coordinator for MSF in Greece, tells InfoMigrants.
The first stabbing of 2020 occurred during New Year's Eve, when a Congolese man was attacked by an Afghan national who was trying to steal his mobile phone. The victim sustained serious injuries in the attack and died in hospital on January 15.
On January 16, a 20-year-old Yemeni was then killed after getting into a fight with another migrant living in the camp. He was pronounced dead upon his arrival at hospital.
The day after the second death, several people staged a demonstration at the camp, calling for better, and safer, living conditions.
But just two days later, yet another migrant fell victim to the violence. "An Afghan woman was stabbed," Issouf tells InfoMigrants. According to MSF, the young woman is currently in a critical condition, and is being treated in hospital after sustaining serious injuries to her chest and abdomen.
Issouf is worried about the dangerous developments in the camp. "I left my country because of the lack of security, but it's the same here, or even worse," he sighs. "We live in fear."
'We lack everything in Moria'
According to MSF, the more overcrowded the camp is, the more violent it gets. In 2019, Greece once again became the primary gateway for migrants trying to make their way to Europe. The Moria camp currently houses 19,000 people, almost seven times its capacity of 2,800 places.
"The overcrowding of the camp, the cold and the waiting doesn't help the situation and makes it harder on everyone," Abassi from MSF says. "We lack everything in Moria: food, showers, toilets… You have to line up for everything here, all the time."
"A camp like this shouldn't even exist in Europe," Abassi says, noting that the European Union must take its responsibility for people living there.
The Greek government, meanwhile, has announced several measures to try to end the overcrowding of the migrant camps on the Aegean islands. At the end of last year, for example, hundreds of migrants were transferred to mainland Greece.
But Greek authorities are also trying to deter new migrant arrivals and have tightened the legislation on the right to asylum. They have also announced the creation of new migrant camps – aimed at housing some 5,000 people – on the five Aegean islands where there are currently reception and registration centers for migrants.
*This name has been changed