The picture shows an improvised tents camp around the refugee camp of Moria in the island of Lesbos on June 21, 2020 | Photo: AFP/ARIS MESSINIS via ANSA
The picture shows an improvised tents camp around the refugee camp of Moria in the island of Lesbos on June 21, 2020 | Photo: AFP/ARIS MESSINIS via ANSA

Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) have urged the Greek government and its EU partners to take action to prevent a health tragedy in the refugee camp of Moria, Lesvos, after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the facility. The organizations said the coronavirus pandemic could now cause hundreds of victims among men, women and children already living in inhumane conditions.

After the first confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in the Moria migrant in Lesbos, the pandemic could now case hundreds of victims among the men, women and children who are already weakened by inhumane living conditions, Oxfam and the Greek Council of Refugees (GCR) warned on Thursday. 

In total, there are already over 80 infections registered on the island.

The organizations urged the Greek government and the European Union to take immediate action to avoid a health tragedy in the camp. 

12,000 people in hotspot 

Nearly 12,000 people, 40% of whom are children, are currently living in a camp built for less than 3,000, Oxfam said in a statement. There aren't enough toilets, showers or access to water, and many are forced to sleep rough or in overcrowded tents. In this context, social distancing measures and recommended hygiene practices to reduce the spread of coronavirus are impossible, the organization said. 

Up to 160 people are forced to share the same dirty toilet and there is one shower for every 500 residents. On average, between 15 and 20 people live in the same tent or makeshift shelter and over 300 people are forced to share one tap with no soap. 

'Confinement is de facto detention' 

The report also denounced the fact that strict confinement rules imposed to over 24,000 migrants on the Greek islands are increasingly turning into de facto "detention" measures, which are also inadequate to contain the spread of the pandemic. This is a discriminatory policy which goes against fundamental human rights and now risks becoming an approach that is shared at a European level, the organizations warned. 

Although earlier this year several EU member states agreed to relocate a total of 1,600 unaccompanied children from the Aegean refugee camps, only 229 kids have been relocated to six EU countries, the organizations noted. Oxfam and GRC launched an urgent appeal to the Greek government, the EU and member countries to immediately test all people living in the camp and for all migrants to be transferred to the mainland and to other European countries.
 

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