As winter sets in, 12 humanitarian groups have urged Greek authorities to end their “containment policy” and relocate asylum seekers stranded in overcrowded and unsafe island camps to the mainland.
In a joint statement issued on Friday, the Greek and international organizations said that the Greek government, with the support of EU leaders, “should immediately transfer people to improved conditions on the mainland and take concrete measures by December 21 so that no asylum seekers are left out in the cold.”
Hotspots on the Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos are hosting 7,200 more people than they were designed to accommodate as of November 30, according to the human rights and aid groups who warned that 12,744 people live in facilities with a capacity of just 5,576.
“Thousands, including single women, female heads of households, and very young children, live in summer tents, essentially sleeping on the ground, exposed to the cold, damp, and rain as the weather worsens,” the groups said.
“Some women are forced to share tents and containers with unrelated men, putting their privacy and safety at risk,” they said, while warning about the lack of access to clean water, sanitation facilities and health services.
Among the groups that signed the statement were Human Rights Watch, the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam and Help Refugees.