Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis praises the temporary facility in Kara Tepe despite harsh conditions. Evidence of pushbacks continue to mount and shipwreck off Lesvos cost two lives.

Following a visit to the temporary facility in Kara Tepe also referred to as Moria 2.0, Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis praised the conditions in the camp. Deputy Director-General of the European Commission, Beate Gminder, who took part in the visit expressed that she saw significant improvements of the facility currently hosting 7,250 people including 2,400 children. However, that interpretation of the situation stands in contrast to the observations of NGOs and inhabitants. According to Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) power cuts, insufficient sanitarian facilities, and lack of protection defines the camp. Further, the organisation states that it is unsuited for harsh weather conditions with winter approaching: “The camp’s location leaves it particularly exposed to north winds. Tents are at the mercy of weather conditions and are unstable when there is wind. On one occasion, a tent where Reception and Identification Service (RIS) staff was working was blown by the wind into the sea!”. Residents of the temporary facility concur: “At night, when the wind blows the tent is shaking and we are not able to sleep”, says Hassan*, a refugee from Afghanistan. Saeb, a victim of torture also from Afghanistan, says: “We put sandbags at the entrance to prevent the water from entering. The tents do not have a floor, all they have are some pallets, nothing else. Some have tried to construct a ‘wall’ of soil but it is not possible to protect the tent from (flooding)” On 3 December the European Commission, Greek authorities and EU agencies agreed on a plan to establish an “up-to-standard” reception centre on the island of Lesvos by early September 2021.

According to the Aegean Boat Report a total of 20 boats embarked from Turkey to Greece between 23-29 November with 362 people onboard. 130 people arrived in Greece while the remaining 232 people were either stopped by the Turkish Coastguard or pushed back. The organisation further reports that 2,622 people have been drifting in the Aegean Sea this year in more than 150 life rafts manufactured in Greece. None were related to shipwrecks or boats in distress, none were picked up by the Greek coastguard and all appeared in areas where the wind and current was directed towards Turkey. 85 people scattered in several groups from at least four boats, among them many children, have gone into hiding in the woods on Lesvos to avoid being returned to Turkey. While some have moved towards populated areas many reportedly remain in the woods running low on supplies. On 2 November the body of a woman was recovered on Lesvos doubling the death toll after a dinghy sank off Lesvos. 32 people including three children and all of Somali origin have been rescued.

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Photo: ECRE

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.