‘Moria 2.0’: Groups slam conditions at replacement refugee camp

Concerns rise for thousands of refugees in new shelter ahead of winter, after a huge fire reduced Moria to ashes.

A general view of the temporary camp for refugees and migrants near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday Sept. 13, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a
A general view of the temporary camp for refugees and migrants near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece [Petros Giannakouris/AP]

The Oxfam aid organisation and Greek Council for Refugees have criticised conditions at a provisional tent camp for refugees and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos, saying conditions are worse than they were at the original site that burned down.

Some 8,000 people, mostly families with children, are living in tents not fit for winter, Oxfam said on Wednesday in Brussels.

The charity sent staff to Lesbos, together with the Greek Council of Refugees, to assess the situation at the provisional site after a fire gutted the island’s Moria camp in September. Greece says the blaze was deliberately set by migrants.

The aid workers criticised the new camp, dubbed “Moria 2.0″, saying the shelter was inadequate, there was hardly any running water, and healthcare services were limited and there was no access to legal aid.

“The EU [European Union] and Greek response following the Moria fire has been pitiful. Rather than relocating asylum seekers to proper shelters where they would be safe, the EU and Greece have opted for another dismal camp at the external borders, trapping people in a spiral of destitution and misery,” said Oxfam’s EU migration expert, Raphael Shilhav.

Some tents are only 20 metres from the sea and have no protection from the weather, aid workers said.

Food is only provided once or twice each day, is insufficient and of poor quality, Oxfam said.

Furthermore, there is hardly any running water, so many people wash in the sea. And there is no drainage and sewage system on the site that was formerly a military shooting range.

Oxfam appealed to EU countries to take in refugees from the Greek islands. It said the EU should also help Greece and aid organisations to equip the camps properly. Greece should bring people to the mainland as soon as possible and provide suitable accommodation.

Parts of the provisional camp have already been submerged by flooding due to October rains.

Natalia-Rafaella Kafkoutsou, refugee law expert at the Greek Council for Refugees, said: “We are deeply concerned about living conditions in the new camp and urge Greece to relocate immediately everyone from the island. Though the government’s plan to relocate all residents by Easter is welcome, it fails to address the squalid conditions in the camp, which will deteriorate in winter.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies