NEWS

EU in talks with Erdogan as Greece quarantines migrants

TAGS: Turkey, Migration, Coronavirus

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the migration crisis and the situation in Syria on Tuesday with the leaders of France, Germany and UK in a video conference, Greece said that migrant reception and processing centers on the Greek islands will be in lockdown for at least the next two weeks as part of the measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in any of the facilities.

The Migration Policy Ministry said the measures also include the suspension of all special activities and facilities in the camps, including schools, libraries and exercise areas, while new arrivals will be checked for a fever and other symptoms of Covid-19 at the door and confined to quarantine if found to be ailing.

Meanwhile, although no information on the outcome of the consultations in the video conference between French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was available late Tuesday, international news agencies were reporting that the three European leaders were to pressure Erdogan to stop sending refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Africa to Europe through Greece.

For his part, the Turkish president was expected to seek financial compensation and to say that the European Union has not fulfilled its promise of 6 billion euros in financial assistance to Turkey, which hosts 3.6 million refugees, under the 2016 agreement between Brussel and Ankara to stem their flow to the continent. 

Camp residents will further be discouraged from venturing outside the facilities – even for getting supplies – but also from moving around within them without good reason.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) last week called on the Greek authorities to evacuate all the camps and transfer their residents to the mainland in order to prevent an outbreak inside the woefully overcrowded and understaffed facilities.

“In some parts of the Moria camp there is just one water tap for every 1,300 people and no soap available. Families of five or six have to sleep in spaces of no more than 3 square meters,” Dr Hilde Vochten, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece, said in an announcement, referring to the notorious camp on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos. 

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