The transfer of people left homeless after the fire in the Moria camp to a temporary tented camp in Kara Tepe in a former military area began on 13 September and around 5000 people have already entered to face harsh conditions. Another 7000 people remain confined between the burned down Moria camp and the new improvised structure in Kara Tepe with little or no support or supplies. The European Commission confirmed on 17 September that it will finance and co-manage a “modern” refugee camp to replace Moria.

The temporary camp in Kara Tepe has no stable electricity or running water, and no space for social distancing, with the number of positive COVID-19 cases at 135. Hotspots in Samos, Leros and Kos were placed in quarantine after two positive COVID-19 tests in the Reception and Identification Center in Vathi (Samos) and one on Leros. The fact that the improvised camp is closed comes with particular dangers as “Entry of lawyers and organisations offering humanitarian and other forms of support is forbidden, resulting in persons with illnesses and special needs and pregnant women remaining without medicine or care for their medical needs”, According to Refugee Support Aegean.

7000 people including thousands of minors remain trapped in the area between Moria, Panagiouda and Kara Tepe sleeping rough in fields and roadsides without access to running water, toilets, food, water or health care. According to ECRE member Pro Asyl: “With a massive lyant police presence, roads into the cities are closed, the atmosphere on the island is tense. Tear gas was used to respond to demonstrations by those seeking protection”, and exposed to: “attacks by right-wing extremists and from the island population against asylum seekers and helpers”. Several media confirm tensions and harsh measures by Greek riot police.

Minister of Citizen Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis stated on 15 September that no migrant or refugee will be allowed to leave Lesbos without going through procedures and obtaining legal documents through the Kara Tepe camp. Minister of Migration & Asylum, Notis Mitarachi suggests that the fires in Moria and Samos demonstrate the need for closed controlled centres. The Minister also expressed that no one will be rewarded with the ability to go to another European country for starting an “uprising” in Greece referring to the fires in Samos and Moria after which six former residents have been arrested. Further, despite local resistance Mitarachi announced the construction of a new permanent Reception Centre to replace Moria camp. Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas confirmed at a joint press conference with the German Interior Minister on 17 September that the Commission is ready to contribute to the financing for the construction of a modern refugee camp in Lesbos, as well as to participate in its management.

The Greek government continues its crack down on civil society organisations working to assist refugees and asylum seekers. Despite critique from the Expert Council on NGO Law at the Council of Europe in July stating: “requirements for registration appear to be designed to restrict entire classes of NGOs from being able to operate in the domains of asylum, migration, and social integration,” the new registration requirements are even more rigid and intrusive. Even public servants working in the area of asylum are being intimidated and staff from the Reception and Identification Service (R.I.S.) have denounced top officials telling them they are at war.

At least four people, two women and two children, drowned as a boat carrying more than 60 people capsized off the coast of Crete. 57 people were rescued in an operation conducted by the Greek coastguard on 15 September.

Nine EU Member States (Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg) and Switzerland have expressed willingness to accept 400 unaccompanied children from the Greek islands. Germany has agreed to take in an additional 1553 people, 408 families with children who had already been recognised as vulnerable in Greece.

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Photo: ECRE

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