Amnesty International has made an urgent appeal for the shutdown of the Elliniko migrant and refugee camp on Athens’s southern coast and is calling for the transfer of its 1,200 occupants to alternative shelters.
The rights organization is decrying appalling living conditions at the facility and says that women and underage girls live in constant fear of sexual and verbal abuse.
According to Amnesty, women at the camp feel that they might come under attack at any moment in their tents, toilets and showers. Many avoid leaving their tents altogether for fear of harassment.
The camp at the site of Athens’s former airport is inhabited mainly by Afghans who have been living in squalor in tents for over a year, with an insufficient number of toilets and showers, and limited privacy.
The situation has reportedly led to increased rates of depression and anxiety, as well as suicide attempts.
Meanwhile, European Union auditors said in a report released on Tuesday that the centers set up in Greece and Italy to fast-track the registration of migrants are in urgent need of more expert help – particularly with regard to children – as they are overcrowded.
“There are still more migrants arriving at the hotspots than leaving, and they are seriously overcrowded,” the report said, adding that children are being held in “restrictive conditions” for more than three months.
The auditors called for the improvement of facilities on the Greek islands and said two more hotspots are needed to process migrants in Italy.
Hotspots in Greece and Italy, the report said, are designed to process some 8,000 people but routinely deal with 15,000-16,000 migrants.