Asylum seekers who have disembarked over the last three days on Lesbos are gathered by coast guard personnel in the port of Mytilene, Greece on March 3, 2020 | Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou
Asylum seekers who have disembarked over the last three days on Lesbos are gathered by coast guard personnel in the port of Mytilene, Greece on March 3, 2020 | Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou

Marco Sandrone, the Lesbos field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has denounced the dire situation on the island, likening it to a war zone. He also stressed that Moria was "too much" for children living there and called on the EU to evacuate people.

The situation of migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos ''is not very different from that of a war zone, a war against dignity, human rights and the resilience of those who are fleeing to look for security," Marco Sandrone, the Lesbos field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said on March 3.

Describing the situation he witnessed on the island, Sandrone said tensions over the past few days "demonstrate once again Europe's failure."

He described Europe as "cruel, cynical and ruthless in front of the fate of men, women and children who are fleeing war, like the ongoing one in Syria."

'Hostility, frustration have become unmanageable'

In a statement, Sandrone said since the start of the year MSF staff witnessed "violent repression" -- "tear gas fired at asylum seekers who were demonstrating to demand basic services" on the streets and in front of the pediatric clinic run by MSF.  All this happened while all NGOs were asking for help due to an "unmanageable situation," he added.

Talking about the aggressive reaction of isolated groups and desperation of Moria residents, the MSF official said hostility and frustration over the last few weeks have become "unmanageable in the complete absence of Greek institutions."

He went on to say that MSF has recorded an "exponential increase" in migrant arrivals since last summer although "no response" was given by authorities to deal with the situation.

"In eight months we have gone from 6,500 to the current 20,000 at the Moria camp, which is equipped to host no more than 3,000," Sandrone said.

'Moria is too much for them'

The majority of children doctors at MSF's pediatric clinic in Moria visited required treatment for "problems caused by poor living conditions" endured for a period of time, Sandrone said.

Sandrone cited respiratory and dermatological problems tied to poor nutrition and psychosomatic conditions. He also said that children had trouble sleeping and were experiencing developmental problems, and that many were scared and traumatized.

"We are taking care of children who are fighting to remain children," Sandrone said.

"They are afraid, exposed to dangerous situations and without a safe place to stay." The official said a number of parents say their kids don't want to leave their tents because they are too scared and have stopped speaking. "Along with the trauma of war, of fleeing, the distress of living in Lesbos takes away all hope from our little patients," Sandrone said.

"A tent is not the safe place where they expected to live. Moria is too much for them," he added.
Sandrone called on European Union member states to deal with the emergency situation and evacuate people from the islands to EU countries able to host them. "Political calculations at the expense of innocents need to end now," Sandrone concluded.
 

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