Athens (QNN) – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Right Monitor has called on the Greek authorities to evacuate the overcrowded and unsanitary refugee camps, and provide appropriate shelters for asylum seekers, amid fears of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the Greek authorities confirmed there was a coronavirus case among asylum seekers residing in a hotel (serving as a refugee camp) at the Peloponnese Peninsula region in southern Greece.
According to officials, more than 150 out of the 470 people staying at the hotel have been infected with the virus. The hotel was quarantined after a woman from Somalia was diagnosed with the virus two days earlier.
In a statement, the Euro-Mediterranean expressed its deep concerns about the fate of thousands of asylum seekers staying at refugee camps in difficult conditions, such as the “Moria” camp.
The “Moria” camp includes about 19,000 asylum seekers in an area designated to accommodate 3,000 people. Thus, sanitation and hygiene conditions in the camp have sharply deteriorated. In some parts of it, soap is not available, and about 1,300 people share only one tap.
The Euro-Mediterranean Regional Director in Europe, Mohamed Shehadeh, said that Greece is obligated under international law to ensure the safety and well-being of all asylum-seekers being held there, especially the most vulnerable people to be infected with the coronavirus.
Two weeks earlier, the Greek authorities isolated the camp of “Ritsona” after 20 cases among the asylum seekers there tested positive. This has made it the first refugee camp to have coronavirus cases in the country.
Another camp in Malakasa was put under ‘full sanitary isolation’ after an Afghani family tested positive with COVID-19.
The Euro-Mediterranean said that an outbreak of the novel virus in the refugee camps in Greece will make the most dangerous crisis for the asylum seekers amid the series of crises they suffer from.
The density and overcrowding of asylum seekers, in addition to the deteriorated hygiene levels and inadequate health conditions, pose a major threat to the safety and health of these individuals, it added.
The Euro-Mediterranean urged the Greek government to evacuate all the refugee camps and release the detained asylum seekers. It called on the authorities to provide them with adequate housing, and with access to health care during the epidemic.
The Euro-Mediterranean also called on the European Union Commission and all member states of the European Union to intervene and provide Greece the needed assistance financially or by redistributing the asylum seekers between the countries of the European Union to reduce the pressure on Greece and other countries in the Mediterranean basin.