NEWS

Aid group blames Greece, EU for poor state of hot spots

TAGS: Migration, Politics, EU

The international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) issued a damning report on Thursday, saying refugees at camps in Greece continue to live in mostly “appalling conditions” and suggested that there was a lack of political will to tackle the problem, both in Greece and in other European Union member-states.

Refugee reception centers on Greek islands, known as hot spots, are “at 200 percent capacity and the services in the mainland camps substandard,” according to Loic Jaeger, MSF’s head of mission in Greece. The most vulnerable people are left without the care they desperately need, he said.

“The unwillingness or the inability of the Greek government to take the lead and to ensure proper cooperation with the other actors involved is having a serious impact on the quality and speed of the response,” the report said.

“Likewise, the deliberate negligence of the EU and its member-states in providing an efficient relocation system for those seeking safety and protection is prolonging and intensifying the suffering,” it added.

The European Union and Greece have “collectively failed to establish humane and dignified reception conditions,” MSF said in the report, highlighting bad conditions and poor access to healthcare.

The continuing arrival of migrants from Turkey has put a serious strain on islands of the eastern Aegean, where centers are overcrowded and frustrated migrants often protest. On Thursday migrants staged a demonstration outside the main reception center on Chios, protesting against the slow rate at which asylum applications are being processed.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to appeal for further support for Greece at a European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels that concludes on Friday.

In talks on Wednesday with Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, European Parliament President Martin Schulz acknowledged the need to speed up the relocation of migrants to other EU countries but blamed Greece for the low rate of returns to Turkey of migrants whose asylum applications are rejected.

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