SYRIZA Leaves Refugees to Sleep in Cold Tents on Islands

FILE - In this Friday, June 9, 2017 photo a man prays at the seaside where refugees and other migrants live in makeshift tents near the Souda refugee camp, under the medieval castle of Chios on Chios island, Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – While Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he’s “proud” of living conditions for more than 54,0000 refugees and migrants stuck in Greece, human rights groups said the reality is that many of them are shivering in summer weight tents on islands as officials there keep pleading and protesting for them to be moved to the mainland.

Demonstrations outside the Migration Ministry, as its chief, Yiannis Mouzalas, ignored them and refused to meet with mayors from the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios, did nothing to bring any relief.

That came despite warnings that many would suffer in the winter although Mouzalas said in previous winters when there were photos suffering people in snow-covered tents that they weren’t really cold.

Speaking to the British newspaper The Guardian, Aria Danika, Project Coordinator of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF) on the island of Lesbos, said whole families who recently arrived from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq were packed into small summer tents, under the rain and in low temperatures.

“In our mental health clinic we have received an average of 10 patients with acute mental distress every day, including many who tried to kill themselves or self-harm. The situation on the island was already terrible. Now it’s beyond desperate,” Danika told the Guardian.

On Lesbos, more than 6,500 people are stranded in facilities with a capacity of just over 2,300.