As winter approaches UNHCR fears for migrants on Greek islands

TMP – 18/10/2017

With winter weather on its way, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR is expressing concerns over the living conditions in migrant camps on the islands of Greece. In a statement released on 6 October, the UN body highlighted that the camps are already overcrowded, with more migrants expected to arrive.

“Many refugees in the state-run camps were living in small tents and shelters unsuitable for the winter. Conditions are quickly deteriorating amid increased arrivals while harsh, rainy and cold weather is expected,” the statement said.

Over 1,500 migrants, including pregnant women and disabled people, are currently living in tents or shelters without insulation, flooring or heating in the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, UNHCR said. The island is one of the first arrival points for many migrants.

More than 400 migrants are experiencing challenging living conditions in a camp on Samos Island, while another 300, including families and unaccompanied children, are sleeping in tents in the woods because of lack of space in the main camp.

The UN body urged the Greek government to provide the migrants with winter necessities, including heating.

“UNHCR urges action on the islands to ease overcrowding, improve shelter, and stock and distribute appropriate and sufficient aid items. Last year, snow and freezing temperatures caused suffering for people in unheated shelters,” said Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR representative in Greece.

According to data provided by UNHCR, some 5,000 migrants arrived on the Greek islands from Turkey in September, bringing the total number to 20,000 in 2017 so far.