Greek police has evicted the 74 vulnerable residents of the self-run PIKPA camp on Lesvos in a “massive and unannounced operation”. Health conditions in the new tented emergency camp are raising concern. Vial camp on Chios hit by severe storm. A fire destroyed 15 tents in the massively overcrowded Vathy camp on Samos. Vulnerable and unsupported people continue to sleep rough at Victoria square in Athens.

After recently announcing a postponing of the closure of the PIKPA camp and despite an outcry by residents and civil society as well as legal action, Greek police evicted the PIKPA camp on October 30. According to Lesvos Solidarity the 74 vulnerable residents including 32 children: “were woken up in their houses by police. No official written order was presented at any point, despite lawyers’ repeated requests for individualised decisions for transfer to a new place, in respect of national, European and international law”. At the time of the eviction the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had been requested interim measures in two cases alleging violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the event of their removal from PIKPA camp and its closure. Eleni Spathana, lawyer from Refugee Support Aegean stated: “The Greek Government demonstrated unprecedented contempt for legality and ongoing court proceedings by transferring people out of PIKPA before the deadline set by the Strasbourg Court for information in order to rule on interim measures, resulting in the applicants’ request being rendered without object”. The evicted people have been transferred to the municipality run camp at Kara Tepe  has that has been announced by Greek authorities to close by 31 December.

Adding to mounting criticism of conditions in the new tented emergency camp near Kara Tepe (Moria 2), the Moria Media Team is raising concern over the health situation due to the lack of sanitary facilities and water “coming and going” leaving people forced to do short bucket showers or shower in the ocean. Allegedly, as the result of a problem with electrical installations a small fire broke out in the camp on 31 October causing no injuries. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on 2 November that: “The German Red Cross Society set up an additional 195 tents for accommodation and the first shower units were installed” in the emergency camp that hosts 7700 former residents of the destroyed Moria camp.

On 31 October, the same day an earthquake hit the Aegean islands, the Vial camp on Chios was devastated by a severe storm, according to Seebrücke camp management forbade the distribution of blankets and clothing by aid agencies. A fire destroying 15 tents and leaving 150 people without shelter broke out 2 November in the massively overcrowded Vathy camp on Samos build for 600 people and currently holding 4,200.

More than four months after the eviction of thousands of recognised refugees from reception facilities and camps, increasing numbers of vulnerable people are sleeping rough in Victoria square in Athens without access to employment or social services. A 14-year old girl told Infomigrants: “I’m from Afghanistan. I live here with my parents and with my brother who is 16. My mother has a heart problem and my brother has psychological problems. We live here but they didn’t help us. They didn’t give us anywhere to live, or any food or water”.

Mare Liberum, an organisation monitoring the human rights situation for refugees in the Aegean Sea is urging authorities to rescue a group of 25 people including a 9 month’s pregnant woman in need of medical attention, stranded on the inhabited island Farmakonisi. 55 people stranded on coast of Karystos in Evia after they were forced ashore and left by human smugglers. According to local media the UNHCR has been informed of the incident.

The NGO hotline for refugees in distress at sea, Alarmphone reports of yet another pushback operation by the Greek coast of 30 people who were left adrift and later rescued by the Turkish coastguard under bad weather conditions.

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Photo: ECRE

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