HRW: Greek island camps not adequately prepared for Covid-19

HRW: Greek island camps not adequately prepared for Covid-19

Greek authorities have not done enough to address the dangerous overcrowding and lack of health care, access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene products to stem the spread of Covid-19 in camps for asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned on Wednesday.

The New York-based organization said Greece’s government should immediately take measures to protect those most at risk of Covid-19 in the island camps to avert a public health crisis.

“While the Greek government is working to stop the spread of the virus, the images of the squalid conditions in camps on the islands make clear that it’s not complying with minimum preventive and protective measures against Covid-19 there,” said Belkis Wille, senior Crisis and Conflict researcher at HRW.

“Even handwashing and social distancing are impossible in these circumstances,” she said.

As of April 20, 2020, 34,875 migrants and asylum seekers lived in the camps on the Aegean islands of Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesvos, and Samos – over 6 times their capacity.

No cases have yet been identified in the island camps. According to an aid worker interviewed by HRW, “it is very unlikely that Covid-19 will never come to Moria. The only solution, if we want to minimize casualties, is to decongest before it comes.”

Kathimerini has learned that some 1,500 residents of the Moria camp will be transferred to the mainland on Saturday. The migrants will be the first out of a total of 2,380 members of vulnerable groups who are to be moved out of island camps over the next two weeks.

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