Aid groups warn of emergency at Greek asylum centres

Aid groups warn of emergency at Greek asylum centres
Greece refugees © CAFOD Photo Library CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Demonstrators from the Greek islands of Chios, Lesbos and Samos lead protests in Athens to demand the government take action on asylum centres.

Humanitarian groups have warned of a looming emergency on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, the day after residents converged on Athens in protest at policies that have led to thousands of migrants and refugees being stranded in reception centres.

A surge in arrivals from neighbouring Turkey has seen numbers soar and conditions deteriorate in the crowded camps – a situation that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned was “beyond desperate”.

Aria Danika, MSF project co-ordinator, said: “In Lesbos, entire families who recently arrived from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are packed into small summer tents, under the rain and in low temperatures, struggling to keep dry and warm.

“In our mental health clinic we have received an average of ten patients with acute mental distress every day.”

Panos Pitsios, president of the town council of Mytilene, Lesbos’s capital, said: “Action has to be taken now, before its too late.”

The island, the gateway for an estimated 800,000 refugees and migrants who entered Europe at the height of the refugee crisis two years ago, is now housing more than 7,000 people in facilities with a capacity of 2,300.

Organisations increasingly fear that unless asylum seekers are transferred to the mainland where facilities are less crowded and better equipped, thousands could be left out in the cold as winter approaches.


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