The 'Kara Tepe' camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece | Photo: EPA/Vangelis Papantonis
The 'Kara Tepe' camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece | Photo: EPA/Vangelis Papantonis

Catholic charity Community of Sant'Egidio is planning to transfer 40 migrants and refugees from the 'Kara Tepe' camp on the Greek island of Lesbos to Italy in October. Among them are several unaccompanied minors.

In early October, a delegation from Sant'Egidio will travel to the refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos to coordinate the transfer of 40 people, Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano reported on September 28. Housing for them has reportedly already been arranged in the Italian regions of Puglia, Tuscany, and Veneto, as well as in the capital Rome.

Humanitarian corridors allow non-government organizations (NGOs) -- such as Sant'Egidio -- to transfer vulnerable refugees to Italy and several other European countries, if they pay for their housing and resettlement assistance.

Migrants and refugees left at Kara Tepe

Aid organizations have long criticized the living conditions migrants and refugees on Lesbos face. The 'Kara Tepe' camp (also often referred to as 'Mavrovouni camp' or even 'Moria 2.0') is located on a former army shooting range, right next to the sea. Residents face very cold winds in winter and very hot temperatures in the summer. NGOs have warned that lead ammunition left on the grounds could be dangerous.

An estimated 3,500 people -- among them many women and children -- are still living at the 'Kara Tepe' camp, which was built to host up to 8,000 people. Most of them hail from Afghanistan, Syria or various sub-Saharan African countries.

The Kara Tepe camp opened in September 2020, after the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp burned down, once more displacing 12,000 migrants and refugees from their mostly makeshift shelters.

Fewer people in camps on Greek islands

Since then, many former Moria residents have been transferred to the Greek mainland or other European countries -- some through humanitarian corridors, but most through transfer deals arranged between the Greek and other EU countries' governments. Germany, for example, took in 2,765 people from Greece, mostly from Lesbos.

Greek authorities have also been accused of pushbacks to keep the number of migrants and refugees reaching the Greek islands low. A charge they have repeatedly denied.

Between April 2020 and August 2021, the number of migrants and refugees staying in camps on the five Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos dropped from rougly 40,000 to less than 8,000.


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