At least three boats arrived to Lesvos between 19 and 21 of January with one death reported. The situation in camps across Greece is further deteriorating as snow sets in and temperatures dropping close to zero.

The Greek coast guard rescued 24 people, on 19 January when a boat believed to have taken off from Turkey reached a rocky area in the southeastern part of Lesvos. Additionally, one dead body was recovered and 3 people who had jumped into the water before the boat reached the coast have reportedly been found alive and well. Another landing of a boat on Lesvos, east of Eftalou, carrying seven people including a child was reported by the Aegean Boat Report in the evening of 19 January. The group went into hiding in fear of being deported but have been instructed by the organisation on how to reach the quarantine camp in Megala Therma. In the early hours of 21 January, a boat arrived directly at the beach in front of the so-called Moria 2.0 camp in Kara Tepe. Reports differ but somewhere between 10 and 70 people were on-board.

The winter has set in on the Aegean islands as well as the mainland and the situation for asylum seekers and refugees in camps across Greece is rapidly deteriorating. In the ‘new Malakasa’ construction north of Athens funded by EU, 782 people including 258 children are freezing in tents covered with snow. Water and power cuts in the refugee reception and identification center VIAL on Chios over the weekend left people unable to cook and covered only by blankets and sleeping bags in their tents in the freezing cold. The so-called Moria 2.0 in Kara Tepe hosting some 7,500 people that has already seen several floodings and storms ravaging the camp also experienced recent power cuts. On 20 January a fire erupted in the camp as the result of an electricity problem causing no injuries but burning down a tent.

The European Court of Human Rights has directed a series of questions to the Greek government related to eight cases of particularly vulnerable people residing in the so-called hotspots in Chios, Kos, Lesvos and Samos. According to a press release from HIAS Greece and Equal Rights Beyond Borders, the cases: “demonstrate the structural illegality and impossibility to implement the hotspot approach and border procedures in a way that does not violate human rights. This should also be taken into consideration by decision-makers in the EU, as the proposal on the ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ puts a focus on precisely these border procedures and the externalisation of the responsibility for refugee protection that led to the given situation.

During a plenary session on 19 January entitled ‘Council and Commission statements – Humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants at the EU’s external borders’ numerous MEPs expressed their dismay with the current situation in Greece and urged action from the Council and Commission.

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Photo: ECRE

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