Wed, 30 Sep 2020

Coronavirus and reception policies in the Greek islands

Pressenza
10 Aug 2020, 16:27 GMT+10

The chronicles of recent days have reported the death of another human being in the Greek territory in the camp of Moria. This time it is a 21-year-old Afghan. According to the articles from the local press, the young man had knife wounds on his body, while the perpetrators of the crime seem to be three of his compatriots.The newspaper "Efimerida ton Sintakton" reports that the authorities have arrested a 19-year-old, while another of the perpetrators has been identified. Over five people lost their lives in that refugee camp due to similar attacks during 2020.

It is difficult to describe the situation in Moria to anyone who has not been there. The organizations dealing with "reception" issues protest from time to time about the inhumane conditions, the lack of hygiene, the crowds, the queues to eat three times a day, the quarrels that are inevitably provoked by the living conditions. On 3rd of August, the public health body itself decided to carry out vaccinations and the crowd and tension reached the highest level.

In addition to this situation experienced by people who came to ask for international protection in our country, there is the decision of the Greek government to extend for the third consecutive time (until 2nd of August) the confinement of people living in reception centers. Without an important reason, only as a preventive measure, which however does not apply to the whole population, given that all of us who live in Greece do not have to suffer such measures, while tourists are warmly invited to enjoy the hospitality of our country.

The High Commissioner and many Greek organizations have published their dissenting opinion. Information available to our editorial staff says that the report by members of the scientific commission created by the government to tackle the coronavirus is also dissenting, aligning with the instructions published a few weeks ago by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). Despite this, it seems that this is the only measure left for the government to appease the protests of the inhabitants of the islands, which are partly due to fatigue but which, above all, are fomented by local far-right voices. In addition, the mayor of West Lesbos, Taxiarchis Verros, "threatened" the owner of a hotel in Lesbos to carry out strict checks if he agrees to rent his hotel to asylum seekers.

If we are looking for solutions, we can think of the closure of these places - which represent the contrary of reception - and the transfer of asylum seekers to safe accommodation, while in the meantime their request for international protection presented in the European territory is examined.

Translated from Italian by Ilaria Cuppone

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