The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR urged Greece’s new New Democracy to do what the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA wouldn’t – immediately transfer migrant youths to safe areas after a fatal brawl at the Moria detention center on the island of Lesbos.
“The Greek government must take urgent measures to ensure that these children are transferred to a safe place,” UNHCR representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc said in a statement, the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Leclerc said he was shocked to hear that a 15-year-old Afghan boy had fatally stabbed a compatriot and injured two others at the Moria camp, the report said, with the two injured boys taken to a hospital, one needing life-saving surgery.
A fourth teenager, also from Afghanistan, was arrested by police in connection with the violence, the UNHCR said. The cause of the fight is not yet known but there have been frequent clashes between ethnic groups with more than 22,700 refugees and migrants being held in camps and detention centers on Greek islands near Turkey.
They go to Greece, after first landing in Turkey after fleeing war and strife and economic problems in their homelands in the Middle East, Afghanistan and other countries, and most – there are another 55,000 on the mainland – are seeking asylum.
That’s because the European Union, reneging on promises to help Greece, shut its borders to them and unless given sanctuary will be sent back to Turkey to an unknown fate. The new Greek government said it would step up deportations that had been limited under the rule of SYRIZA which saw human rights groups condemn conditions in the camps.
Thousands of migrants and refugees spend months in Moria and other overcrowded island camps before their applications can be processed, the delay blamed by the government on the overwhelming numbers and with little help from the EU.
Rights groups have warned that the long wait, often without access to information, is harmful to the migrants whose life-threatening journey to Greece and uncertain future has already left many in a fragile mental state, said AFP.
UNHCR said the safe area at Moria hosts nearly 70 unaccompanied children, but more than 500 other boys and girls are staying in various parts of the overcrowded facility without a guardian and are exposed to exploitation and abuse.
“Moria is not the place for children who are alone and have faced profound trauma from events at home and the hardship of their flight. They need special care in designated shelters,” Leclerc said, adding that there are more than 8,500 people in the camp, more than four times its capacity.
New Democracy, elected in July 7 snap polls, has yet to act to help with island officials pleas and demands having fallen on deaf ears for some five years and with the number of refugees and migrants growing by the day, sent by human traffickers that Turkey lets operate during the essentially-suspended swap deal.
Nearly 2,000 refugees and migrants arrived by sea to Greece between Aug 12-18, bringing the number of entries this year to nearly 22,000, the UN said.