Migrant camp on Greek island faces closure due to unhealthy living conditions

EPA-EFE/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

A refugees family wait to get medical assistance in the refugee camp of Moria, on the Lesbos island, Greece, May 2, 2018.

Migrant camp on Greek island faces closure due to unhealthy living conditions


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Greece’s Migration Policy Ministry is coming under increased pressure to devise a quick solution to a potentially dangerous situation after the country’s Northern Aegean Prefecture issued an ultimatum to the Ministry that the large Moria refugee centre on the island of Lesbos will be closed if the camp’s dire sanitary conditions are not immediately improved.

In a letter dated September 7, the North Aegean Prefect, Christiana Kalogirou, listed a series of health hazards found by environmental and health inspectors from Lesbos’ public health directorate who visited the Moria camp.

Inspectors found numerous cases of uncontrolled wastewater overflows inside the living quarters of the camp and at the entrance of the facility. The wastewater regularly runs over onto the nearby road. The camp’s hygiene facilities were found to be surrounded by stagnant waters and infested with both insects and parasites, while the waste pipes for the camp’s toilets are broken, resulting in a strong stench and creating increased hazards for the islanders’ health due to the risk of airborne diseases being spread.

The camp is currently so overcrowded that, according to the inspectors, up to 15 people share a small container house and up to 150 people are housed in tents.

According to Kalogirou, the Northern Aegean Prefecture has given the local authorities a 30-day deadline to clean up and complete all works needed for the camp to function normally.

The European Commission could not immediately offer a comment when asked if Brussels was aware of the situation and if there as a Plan B for the evacuation of the camp if Athens is forced to evict its residents. According to a September 9 report by the Greek authorities, 8,786 migrants are currently living in the Moria camp, which was designed to have a maximum capacity of 3,100.

More than 60,000 refugees and migrants have been stuck in Greece since arriving in the summer of 2015. More than a million migrants have crossed Greece’s border over the three-year period since Europe’s migrant crisis began.

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