LESBOS, Greece – Despite repeated complaints from human rights groups and activists and pleas for help, the overcrowded refugee and detention center on the Greek island of Lesbos isn’t fit for humans and is a cauldron of growing tension with residents, Canada’s CTV said.
The residents have reported break-ins, cases of arson, and animals killed for food in the village of Moria – located only a short distance from the country’s biggest refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.
“You have to be careful. You must have a gun. You must have a knife to protect your family, to protect your property,” resident Vassilis Batzakas told CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian during her recent trip to the camp and its surrounding areas.
The residents say the presence of the refugees is not the problem, it’s the fact that the camp is uncontrollably overcrowded with refugees from Syria’s civil war mixed with migrants from 56 other countries in a center hosting 7,500 people, far over capacity.
Most in the center are seeking asylum, their only option to prevent being returned from Turkey, to which they first fled before human traffickers sent them to Greek islands with the European Union closing its borders to them and reneging on promises to help take some of the overload.
A report by the International Rescue Committee described some of the “unacceptable” conditions, including overcrowding which has led to long line ups for washrooms, food and water.
The camp – designed for just 3,100 people – is overcome with garbage, stagnant water, and broken sewage pipes causing waste to leak into the shabby tents and shipping containers the asylum seekers call home, the paper said.