Asmall boy washing his feet at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island, Greece | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/VANGELIS PAPANTONIS
Asmall boy washing his feet at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island, Greece | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/VANGELIS PAPANTONIS

While on the Greek island of Lesbos the Kara Tepe camp is closing, 6,000 people in the Moria 2 site are living in dire conditions, according to a new report issued by Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR). The groups call on authorities to revise the "de-facto detention system" for migrants.

Greece's decision to close the refugee camp of Kara Tepe on Lesbos is "unacceptable and must be reconsidered," Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) said in a new report published on Tuesday (April 27). The groups argue that Kara Tepe is the only facility able to offer dignified living conditions to over 1,000 extremely vulnerable people.

"The system of de facto detention of people who are already victims of trauma and fleeing war and violence must also be reviewed," the organizations said.

"Although landings on Greek islands between February and March this year have gone down by 86% (compared to the same period in 2020) with only 638 arrivals, reports of illegal pushbacks towards Turkey have increased," the organizations said.

They highlighted that "the last shameful measure is the already ongoing transfer of men, women and children to the camp of Mavrovouini, renamed Moria 2.0, where over 6,000 people are already forced to live in inhumane conditions."

The condition of migrants on the Greek islands

"The camp of Kara Tepe, which functions as an alternative living space, offered migrants until today fields to play, recreational and socializing areas", said in a statement Paolo Pezzati, policy advisor for the migration crisis of Oxfam Italia.

"However one day, without any prior communication, families with small children, single mothers, people with health conditions or abuse victims started to be transferred to the Moria 2.0 camp, which was called in this way because living conditions are terrible, like in the first Moria that burned down in August 2020.

"With Europe's backing, Greece continues to treat in this way people who have fled countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and Iraq. These are migrants who have the right to request asylum and be protected once they reach Europe."

The organizations denounced that at the Moria 2.0 camp in Mavrovouni, people are forced to live in tents that are unsuitable to protect them from hot and cold weather. Two out of three bathrooms at the camp are not working, there is no hot water and women are exposed to abuse with many reports of harassment going unheeded, they said.

A reported 23% of migrants living in such conditions on Lesbos are women and nearly 3,000 (35%) are children, 16% of them girls.

The report also denounced an increasing use of detention-like practices. As of today, 248 people have been placed in administrative detention for up to a year on the Greek islands.

"Two people have died in a week in administrative detention centers in Kos and Corinth. In the center of Magal Therma, which has been set up for COVID-19 quarantines, 13 people were beaten and sent back to Turkey," it noted.

An appeal to the European Union

"The blind EU policy based on detention and containment brings with it death and desperation," concluded Pezzati.

"If we add the forced closure of camps that functioned and the return to conditions replicating the experience of Moria, we have nothing left to say except that this is purely a deterrence policy at the expense of the weakest. Instead of replicating these brutal practices in the Pact on migration, the Greek government and the EU need to urgently deal with the dramatic condition of children, women and men arriving on the islands. Detention and contempt for the most vulnerable can't be the foundation for European asylum legislation."


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