The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, calls on Greece to act on “the unsustainable situation” for refugees on the Greek islands.
Around 36,000 people are currently living in over-crowded and unsanitary camps in five islands on the Aegean Sea (Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos, Leros) which are only designed to hold 6,200.
“Many people are living without electricity, or even running water, in filth and waste,” Grandi stated.
“The living conditions on the islands are shocking and shameful,” Grandi said, adding they had gotten worse since his last visit in November. Grandi added that Greece would receive “support from the EU.”
The High Commissioner also appealed for European solidarity and requested that “the responsibilities be shared.” This could involve relocating non-accompanied children and other vulnerable people to other EU countries and speeding up family reunions.
Asylum seeker’s difficulty in accessing healthcare is also a big concern: “the risks incurred by the most vulnerable people are among the worst seen in refugee crises across the world.”
Grandi says the situation must be resolved quickly by relocating refugees to the Greek mainland, “where extra capacity to house refugees must be found radiply.”
The Greek government transferred 9,000 out of the planned 20,000 asylum seekers last year. The delay is due to the lack of accommodation and increasing opposition from local authorities.
Five years after the 2015 migrant crisis, the situation Greece finds itself in as the migrant gateway to Europe has led to slightly xenophobic demonstrations (which have been marred by incidents) on the Aegean islands and several cities on the mainland.
The Brussels Times