Greece faces fresh heavy criticism on migrants

New damning report slams "inhuman" conditions

19 February, 18:33

    ATHENS - Greece's handling of the ongoing migrant crisis continues to come under heavy criticism with a new scathing report declaring that the country's migrant camps continue to be "inhuman and degrading" for the thousands of asylum seekers staying in them.
    The report which was published by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), highlights "a lack of doctors, adequate medicine, food and drinking water in several camps".
    This time the report does not just focus on the poor conditions on the North Eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, but also the facilities along the land border with Turkey, as well as in Athens. The report said the conditions are so bad that it they are "causing numerous health problems, including scabies from dirty blankets." The CPT have singled out one of the European Union-funded camps at the village of Fylakio on the border with Turkey, where they reported that 95 migrants were living in a single room.
    The detailed report hones in on the Greek authorities' handling of unaccompanied minors, stating that there are cases that hundreds of such vulnerable groups are being housed in the same rooms and facilities as single men, which puts them at risk of sexual violence.
    Overall the damning report laments Greece's handling of the situation on several levels and stresses that immediate action needs to be taken to ensure that occupancy levels are "drastically reduced" so each facility is not overcrowded and in order to make sure that facilities can be kept clean, repaired and that every detained person should be provided with appropriate food, a mattress and clean bedding, as well as sufficient hygiene products.
    "The CPT urges the Greek authorities to take concrete action to address without delay the recommendations made by the committee in all these areas outlined in this and previous visit reports," said the report, which can be read here (https://rm.coe.int/1680930c9a).
    The report comes just a month after the Hellenic Coast Guard data revealed that there were more than 3,100 arrivals on the Greek islands in the month of December alone. This brought the total number of migrants and refugees in the Aegean to just under 5,000.
    The majority of people are staying on Lesvos, which has a recorded total of 6,922 people. It is here where the main Moria camp has been described as "hell on earth" among other things due to the sheer volume of people and lack of space and infrastructure.
    Earlier this month, Greece's Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas admitted that conditions on both Lesvos and Samos are causing big problems, and said that efforts are being made to transfer more migrants to more suitable facilities on the mainland quicker.
    Describing the situation on the mainland, Vitsas commented that around 25,000 migrants have been placed in apartments, and that 7,000 are staying in hotels and other kinds of tourist lodgings. Additionally, "between 18,000 and 20,000" are living at state-run camps in Athens, Thessaloniki and other areas.

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