Austria has sent 181 containers to Greece to help ease the accommodation problem in the overcrowded migrant camps on the Greek islands.
Austria answered Greece's call to the EU for more help in its provision for migrant camps spread across several Aegean islands as well as its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The containers are equipped with showers and toilets and can be used as accommodation or specialist containers to help isolate and quarantine any migrants or refugees who fall ill with COVID-19.
The shipment of containers, which was announced at the beginning of April, comes through the EU civil protection mechanism and will be co-financed with the EU, a spokesperson for the European Commission in Brussels said on Tuesday.
The Austrian national broadcaster ORF said that the EU Commissioner Janez Lenarcic, who is responsible for crisis management at the Commission, thanked Austria for the order. Lenarcic said that "the whole of Europe is being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including refugees and migrants in Greece."
More equipment needed
As well as the shipment from Austria, ORF reports that Greece asked for various medical and hygiene equipment from its EU partners to help fight the pandemic.
The German news agency dpa reported that the head of the Greek branch of Doctors of the World, Dimitris Patestos, said it was "only a matter of time" before someone in the migrant camp on the island of Lesbos was infected.
In the last few
weeks the Greek government in Athens has offered places in hotels to
a few thousand of the most vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers on
the islands. However, to date, there are more than 39,000 people
still on the islands and many more live in appalling and inadequate
conditions with little access to the kinds of hygiene methods (like
frequent hand washing) that governments have advised their citizens
to follow in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.