“Where are the human rights?” asks an Afghan migrant facing camp closures in Greece

Migrants in Greece are becoming increasingly concerned about their futures as the government moves ahead with its plan to shut down camps on Lesbos, Chios and Samos. The camps will be replaced with “closed” facilities where migrants will be held until they are deported or relocated.

With winter fast approaching, the conditions in the camps are deteriorating. “At the beginning of the winter it’s really bad. It’s raining everywhere. The tents can’t hold it,” says Sleem, a 22-year-old from Iraq. He added: “They don’t treat us like humans here.”

Zeinab, 26, from Afghanistan, says she and her husband only have sleeping bags and a blanket to keep them warm. She is seven months pregnant and the little food she gets makes her sick. “Everyone is coming and saying ‘sorry … I’m so sorry’,” she says. “I am really tired of this word.”

Farzad, an Afghan father of five, who arrived in Lesbos earlier this year, spoke about his experience in Moria camp, saying: “Life is hell here.”

Despite the evident need to move migrants from these camps, many are wary about the government’s plan. Farzad described the new centres as “prisons”. Shocked by the proposal, he asked: “Where are the human rights?”

Zeinab also shared her views: “Not all are convinced the impending closure is realistic. I read about it, but I didn’t think it was true.”

Around 20,000 migrants are due to be relocated to the mainland by early 2020, but Zeinab is sceptical about this plan. She stated: “We see people moving to the mainland, but in these [recent] days, many, many people came here.”

Human rights organisations have also criticised the government’s plan. Tommaso Santo, spokesperson for MSF, said: “the current policy of containing people on the Greek islands has created a system of chaos, neglect and immeasurable harm…If these announcements are confirmed, we don’t see how converting the centres into prisons represents a solution.”

Meanwhile, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has appealed to other EU member states to accommodate more refugees.

TMP – 9/12/2019

Photos credit: quetions123 / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Moria, Lesvos, Greece, 24-February-2016: Refugee camp Moria on Lesvos. A hotspot where refugees register.