Large areas of the Kara Tepe camp in Lesbos are a sea of dirty water and mud | Credit: NGO Aegean Boat Report
Large areas of the Kara Tepe camp in Lesbos are a sea of dirty water and mud | Credit: NGO Aegean Boat Report

Greece's government came under heavy criticism from all sides on Sunday, December 13, after the "tent city" migrant camp on the island of Lesbos was flooded for the third time following two days of heavy rainfall across the country.

Greece's government came under fire on Sunday after the migrant camp at Kara Tepe on the island of Lesbos was flooded for the third time after three days of rain across the country.

Apocalyptic scenes of families with small children wading through pools of dirty rainwater and mud, and tents being blown away by stormy weather conditions, have laid bare the fragility of the facility which was hastily built as a temporary measure after a series of fires destroyed the old camp at Moria.

The flooding comes just two weeks after Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis visited the site to inspect anti-flood measures after the site was flooded twice in October with the first autumnal rain.

The social media accounts of several NGOs and national newspapers published once more images and videos showing disruption at the site, with many tents completely flooded out and sunken in the mud.

'Inhumane conditions' at new Moria camp

Norwegian NGO Aegean Boat led the criticism, with the head of the organization Tommy Olsen posting a media statement saying: "It's unbelievable that Europe can let this happen on European soil in 2020. Over 7,000 people are living in this camp, many of them children, under inhumane conditions. This is the situation in the new camp on Lesbos that many refer to as Moria 2.0. The Greek government claims to have provided sufficient housing, but the pictures show the reality, I'm lost for words."

Opposition party SYRIZA also chimed in to condemn the government for building the facility on the site at Kara Tepe, which is right on the coastline and exposed to the elements. The shadow Migration Minister for the party, George Psychogios, said via Twitter: "I trust Mr. Mitarakis is happy, after all it was he who promoted the new structure at Kara Tepe as a model (!!) to follow, while at the same time he is preparing to build prisons for thousands of people on the islands. But I hope those in the EU are also happy, as they turn a blind eye to this misery, making the countries on the frontline warehouses of souls without collective solutions and mandatory solidarity with refugees."

Mitarakis inspected facility in November

At the end of November, following the inspection, Mitarakis had said that the Kara Tepe was "a clean facility, and a site with order and safety," while also stating that "we have completed the surveys and studies with the relevant authorities to ensure soil quality, and flood protection projects are being completed for winter protection."

After two days of heavy rains, however, those projects appear to have failed miserably, and the episode marks another bleak chapter in the government's handling of the ongoing migrant crisis.

Meanwhile some good news for the 7,000 migrants staying at Kara Tepe arrived recently with the announcement that Greece reached an agreement with the EU on the construction of a new, modern facility on the North East Aegean island.

The new "up-to-standard reception center" -- as it is described by the European Commission, -- will replace the current temporary tent-based camp at Kara Tepe and will have a capacity of 5,000.

However, the not-so-good news is that the new center will not be up and running until the beginning of September 2021.


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