NEWS

Oxfam report details inhumane conditions at Greek migrant camps

TAGS: Migration

Hours after a 24-year-old man from Cameroon was found dead at Moria camp on the Aegean island of Lesvos, international relief group Oxfam published a scathing report detailing inhumane conditions at the infamous facility and other sites.

The report, titled “Vulnerable and Abandoned,” details how the system to identify and protect the most vulnerable individuals has broken down due to chronic understaffing and flawed processes.

Following the resignation of the government-appointed doctor at Moria who was tasked with screening as many as 2,000 people arriving each month, medical assessments to identify the most vulnerable people at the overcrowded camp stopped for at least a month, Oxfam said.

Because of this, the report says, “vulnerable people including survivors of torture and sexual violence are being housed in unsafe areas… Pregnant women and mothers with newborns are left sleeping in tents, and unaccompanied children, wrongly registered as adults, have been placed in detention.”

The report includes accounts of mothers being sent away from hospital to live in a tent as early as four days after giving birth by Caesarean section.

Furthermore, it says that victims of sexual violence and other traumas are housed in a camp where fights are a daily occurrence and where two thirds of residents say they never feel safe.

“In a few extreme cases, women say they have resorted to wearing diapers at night to avoid having to go to the toilet after dark,” the report said.

“It is irresponsible and reckless to fail to recognize the most vulnerable people and respond to their needs,” Renata Rendon, Oxfam’s Head of Mission in Greece, said in a press release.

“Our partners have met mothers with newborn babies sleeping in tents, and teenagers wrongly registered as adults being locked up. Surely identifying and providing for the needs of such people is the most basic duty of the Greek government and its European partners,” she said.

“Local authorities and humanitarian groups are making efforts to improve conditions in places like Lesvos. Unfortunately, this is made almost impossible by policies supported by the Greek government and EU that keep people trapped on the islands for indefinite periods,” she added.

Death probe

A coroner on Tuesday was investigating the death of a 24-year-old man from Cameroon who was taken to hospital late on Monday from Moria.

Amid criticism of the government for an inadequate response to the current cold snap, Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas said the man had been staying in a container home at the camp, equipped with heaters and blankets.

According to Tasos Yfantis, who works with Doctors of the World at Moria, some 5,000 migrants have the luxury of heating while another 1,000 live in tents and makeshift shelters in an olive grove adjacent to the camp. Designed to accommodate 12 people, each container is holding more than 30 due to the cold conditions, Yfantis told Kathimerini.

Some migrant camps on mainland Greece – such as Malakasa, in eastern Attica, and Grevena, in the north – have also had problems due to snowfall in recent days.

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