Thursday 19 September 2019

Asylum seekers move from crowded camp

All of Greece’s five formal island camps are over capacity (stock photo)
All of Greece’s five formal island camps are over capacity (stock photo)

Alkis Konstantinidis

Greece has begun moving hundreds of asylum seekers from a camp on the island of Lesbos that holds around four times the number of people it was built for.

More than 11,000 refugees and migrants, most of whom have fled war or poverty in the Middle East, Asia or Africa, are holed up at Moria in Europe's biggest migrant camp.

Some 635 people, mostly families, boarded a passenger ship yesterday for facilities in northern Greece, and more were due to leave later.

Moving asylum seekers from island camps to the mainland is part of government measures announced on August 31 to deal with rising numbers.

All of Greece's five formal island camps are over capacity.

Moria, which is a disused military base, has been criticised by humanitarian organisations for its squalid living conditions.

It currently holds the highest number of people in three years and violence is not uncommon. An Afghan boy was killed in a fight last month and women have told aid groups they often feel unsafe.

Greece is Europe's main gateway for Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers, and accounts for more than half of the 56,000 migrants who have landed on the Mediterranean's northern shore this year.

The numbers are small compared to the nearly one million who fled to northern Europe through Greece in 2015.

Irish Independent

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