Greece Encouraged to Improve Conditions in Refugee Camps

By The Genocide Report      
June 11, 2017              

As Greece completes its removal of the Idomeni refugee camp that runs along the Macedonia border, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has encouraged Greece to step-up conditions for the thousands of refugees displaced by the closure.

Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for UNHCR, said that while the evacuation of refugees from the Idomeni camp was without force, “the conditions of some of these sites to which the refugees and migrants are transferred far well below minimum standards.”

According to Fleming, some of the refugees had been moved to abandoned factories and warehouses in northern Greece. Limited spacing allowed for tightly packed tents, poor air quality, with limited or no access to electricity and water, toilets, showers and insufficient food and supplies. These poor conditions are a violation of refugee’s basic human rights.

George Kyritsis, the government spokesperson who coordinated the Idomeni evacuation, responded to concerns stating that while the conditions are not optimum, they would “improve soon.”

In the Pireaus camp, approximately 80 refugees were taken to the hospital with suspected food poisoning. Although it was blamed on poorly transported food from the Elliniko camp, the event is one more indication of the poor conditions refugees are exposed to. UNHCR and Greece’s Alternate Minister of Interior are working to improve conditions and to find appropriate alternatives that meet acceptable humanitarian standards.

In the face of a growing displaced population, the rights of refugees have become one of the most significant issues around the world. Human rights and aid groups have urged EU leaders to stop the forced deportation of refugees and migrants to Turkey and to allow persons to seek asylum, rather than interfere with the process.

In the meantime, the conditions of the camps where refugees are housed must be improved to reach levels that are safe and humane.

Featured Image: Children play on an old mobile staircase at the disused Ellinikon airport, home to 2,000 refugees. Photo: Michalis Karagiannis/Reuters