'Trapped in limbo': NGOs attack 'shameful' and 'filthy' conditions in Greek refugee camps

'The sewage system does not work and filthy toilet water reaches the tents and mattresses where children sleep,' charities warn

Zamira Rahim
Thursday 13 September 2018 17:08
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Refugees in Greece: “Every day you die many times”

Over 17,000 refugees are living in Greek island camps in conditions unfit for human habitation, more than a dozen charities and NGOs have warned.

More than 8,300 refugees are housed in one former military camp, where they live in shipping containers and flimsy tents that are frequently criticised as unfit for purpose.

The NGOs criticising the conditions in camps, including Oxfam and Action Aid, urged authorities to take action that extended beyond focusing on one camp.

The announcement follows one by the governor of Greece's North Aegan region, who said that the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos faces closure next month unless authorities clean up the uncontrollable amount of waste.

The Moria detention centre is Greece's biggest camp but inspectors have declared that it is "dangerous for public health and the environment" after inspectors found broken sewage pipes, overflowing bins, stagnant water and flies in toilets.

The groups called the conditions at Moira "shameful" but encouraged authorities to also focus on other camps.

"There is no excuse for the ... conditions in which thousands of people remain trapped in limbo while they wait out their asylum claims,” the NGOs said.

“Moria ... is currently housing almost three times its capacity. The sewage system does not work and filthy toilet water reaches the tents and mattresses where children sleep."

Lesbos was the preferred point of entry into the European Union for nearly a million refugees fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq in 2015 and boats continue to arrive there.

Last month the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, urged Greece to speed up transfers of eligible asylum seekers to the mainland.

Reuters contributed to this report

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