NEWS

UNHCR chief laments conditions at island migrant camps

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Greece risks “dramatic consequences” if it does not improve living conditions at migrant and refugee camps, particularly on the islands, the UN High Commissioner of Refugees Filippo Grandi told lawmakers in Parliament on Thursday.

Grandi was in Athens following a visit to the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, where he inspected the notorious Moria camp and met with local officials and representative of non-governmental organizations.

In a speech to officials from the ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Public Administration, Citizens' Protection and Justice, Grandi said that the conditions he saw at Moria were even more alarming than they were four years ago as a result of overcrowding, insufficient services and an increase in violence, especially against women.

Grandi hailed ongoing efforts to relieve pressure on the islands and their communities, but said that improving conditions at the camps must be a priority. He also said that he is opposed to asylum seekers being kept in facilities where their movements are restricted and while welcoming measures to speed up asylum processing procedures, warned that these need to be in line with international laws.

Grandi was particularly concerned about he fate of hundreds of unaccompanied minors trapped in Greece, saying that ensuring their welfare is a “matter beyond politics.”