The human rights group Amnesty International has stepped up its criticism of refugee detention centers and camps on the overrun Aegean islands of Lesbos and Samos, saying te conditions are unfit, unsafe, and not sanitary.
The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition’s handling of a refugee and migrant crisis, coinciding with a long-running economic crisis, has brought constant complaints from activists and Non-governmental Organizations (NGO’s), especially over the camps and centers on the islands where more than 15,000 are being held.
They were sent there by human traffickers that Turkey lets operate even during a suspended European Union swap deal that was supposed to see those determined ineligible for asylum to be return, but only a relative handful have so far.
People fleeing war and strife in the Middle East have gone to Turkey as a jumping-off point to get to the EU but after Europe closed its borders to them – and reneged on promises to help Greece – they were abandoned on the islands and on the Greek mainland, where another 50,000 are being kept with no prospect or moving or on back.
Amnesty officials visited the facilities of Vathy on Samos and Moria on Lesbos, where secret video shown by the German news site Deutsche Welle earlier had shown people living in garbage and feces and where women said they were targets for assaults and rape.
“Our recent visit once more highlights the serious consequences of the EU-Turkey deal on human rights,” the group’s Greek branch said, referring to to the deal that hasn’t worked and left Greece with trying to deal with asylum applications mostly on its own.
“We saw hundreds of people sleeping in makeshift tents, exposed to strong winds and rain, while they also said that the area is crawling with rats,” said AI Greece chief Gavriil Sakellaridis.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last year said he was “proud” of those conditions but hasn’t visited the centers or camps. Amnesty said it had spoken to unaccompanied women who have been forced to share accommodation with strangers and who are afraid of circulating around the camp alone.
The security problem is especially acute in the areas used to accommodate dozens of unaccompanied minors, AI said, Kathimerini reported.