Migrants are examined by medical personnel as they arrive at Malakassa migrant camp near Athens, Greece | Photo: EPA/Ministry of Immigration and Asylum
Migrants are examined by medical personnel as they arrive at Malakassa migrant camp near Athens, Greece | Photo: EPA/Ministry of Immigration and Asylum

The civil liberties commission of the European Parliament has called on the EU to take immediate action to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19 among refugees and migrants in the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands.

Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar has called for the evacuation of asylum seekers from the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands to prevent a coronavirus disease outbreak. Aguilar published an open letter to Commissioner Janez Lenarcic, European emergency response coordinator and head of the crisis coordination commission, on Monday. In the letter, written on behalf of the European Parliament's entire civil liberties commission, Aguilar asked for an "immediate European response" to prevent a humanitarian crisis on Greek islands.

Spanish politician Aguilar is the head of the civil liberties commission and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). He belongs to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). 

'Risk of many deaths'

"If the EU fails to take immediate action, the situation on the Greek islands will become unmanageable with the risk of many deaths," Aguilar wrote in the letter.

"With the first confirmation of a Covid-19 case on Lesbos ... [o]ne of the main issues to be addressed to avoid the quick and wide spread of Covid-19 on the Greek islands is the urgent preventive evacuation of the overcrowded camps," López Aguilar stated. "Many of those in the camps are already in a precarious health situation and, despite the measures taken by the Greek authorities, the overcrowding and the dire living conditions make it difficult to contain Covid-19."

Aguilar: Relocations should continue

Aguilar called for several measures, including the evacuation of people who are at high risk, such as people older than 60 and people with respiratory conditions, diabetes or other diseases. He also said that the relocation of refugees from the camps -- especially children -- should not be put on hold amid the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesman for the European Commission said Tuesday that they were in contact with the Greek authorities regarding a plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that the Commission is aware of the overcrowding in refugee camps on Greek islands and that Greece is equipping the camps to be able to examine suspected cases and to impose quarantines.

You can read the complete letter here.
 

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