Not fit for winter: Conditions in ‘Moria 2.0’ camp are abysmal - GCR and Oxfam

Not fit for winter: Conditions in ‘Moria 2.0’ camp are abysmal - GCR and Oxfam

Oxfam Ireland urge for swift relocation of the remaining 26 unaccompanied children from Greece to Ireland

The new temporary camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is even worse than the original Moria camp, with inadequate shelter, hardly any running water, limited healthcare services, and no access to legal aid, said the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and Oxfam in their latest ‘Lesbos Bulletin’ news update. The organisations call for the immediate relocation of all people seeking asylum in Lesbos to adequate accommodation on the Greek mainland and in other EU countries - including the remaining 26 unaccompanied children Ireland has committed to relocate.

Almost 8,000 people – most of them families with children – now live in tents not fit for winter, some of which are just 20 metres from the sea. The tents lack a solid foundation and provide no protection against the weather including against strong sea winds and rains.

Food is only provided once or twice per day, and according to residents there is not enough to feed their families. Due to the lack of running water, many people wash themselves in the sea – this is particularly risky for children who could drown or get infected by wastewater from the camp. Due to the lack of toilets and showers as well as insufficient lighting in the new camp, women are also exposed to increased risks of sexual and gender-based violence.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “When Moria burnt down, we heard strong statements from EU decision-makers saying ‘No more Morias’. But the new camp is rightly dubbed ‘Moria 2.0’. 

“The EU and Greek response following the Moria fire has been pitiful. Rather than relocating people 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.  

“This approach is echoed in the new EU migration pact: it proposes more camps at Europe’s borders to screen people seeking asylum. Experience shows that it is unlikely that resources will be invested to ensure a fair and efficient procedure. This means ordinary people using their legal right to flee conflict and human rights abuses will remain in limbo and despair, out of sight of the European public and politicians."

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.

“The government plan also does not provide a durable and coherent integration strategy, in order to avoid simply transferring a policy-made problem from the island to the mainland. This also means that European governments need to work together and ensure effective relocation across member states for those seeking protection in Europe. The practices and policies that led to the failure of the EU ‘hotspot’ approach, both in Lesbos and the other Aegean islands, should not be replicated and consolidated in the EU’s future asylum system, which seems to be the case with the current proposals for a new EU migration pact.”  

Clarken concluded: “We recently welcomed the increase in funding for TUSLA in Budget 2021, and reiterate our hope that this leads to the swift relocation of the remaining 26 unaccompanied children from Greece to Ireland as committed to by the Government in March of this year. 

“We also urge the government to ensures that the International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017 be resubmitted for attention, allowed to pass through the final stages of the Dáil and be enacted into law. This simple act can reunite families torn apart by conflict and persecution.” 

END

Contact

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165 

Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Notes to editors:

  • Spokespeople are available in Ireland, Athens and Lesbos (English, Greek) as well as in Brussels (English).
  • In March of this year Ireland committed to bring 36 unaccompanied minors to Ireland from Greece. To date, Ireland has brought eight of the 36 children they pledged to relocate as part of the Coalition of the Willing initiative, with a commitment following the fires in Moria to begin working to relocate an additional four unaccompanied minors. 
  • Read the full “Lesbos Bulletin”, a two-monthly update on the situation in the EU ‘hotspot’ refugee camp in Lesbos
  • When Oxfam conducted a rapid protection assessment at the end of September, the organisation identified numerous risks to the people living in the camp including limited access to food and healthcare, insufficient measures against COVID-19, as well as no drainage and sewerage system on site. The protection assessment that was conducted by Oxfam at the end of September is available upon request.
  • The fire in Moria camp occurred on the 8th and 9th September and left over 12,000 people without shelter.
  • After the fire, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that “Conditions in Moria, both before and after the fire, were unacceptable… It is not good enough to say never again, we need action and all Member States must play their part.”
  • The UNHCR and NGOs have protested the Greek government’s decision to close two alternative community-based care sites in Lesbos for people seeking asylum, Kara Tepe and Pikpa. Following public pressure, the government has stated that the facility would temporarily remain open.
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