The overcrowded migrant camps in Greece are & # 39; on the verge of a disaster & # 39; and ready to explode & # 39; & # 39 ;, European human rights chief warned Thursday.
Greece has again become the main access point for people seeking asylum in Europe, and it is difficult to accommodate them despite the availability of EU funds.
Dunja Mijatovic, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, said after a five-day visit to Greece that & # 39; urgent action & # 39; needed to handle the & # 39; desperate circumstances & # 39; in which migrants live.
Mijatovic, who visited camps on the islands of Lesbos and Samos and in Corinth, added that they were & # 39; appalled & # 39; was due to the unsanitary conditions in which asylum seekers live on the islands.
Crowded migrant camps in Greece are on the verge of disaster & # 39; and ready to explode & # 39; & # 39 ;, European human rights chief warned Thursday (photo: the Moira camp in Mytilene)
& # 39; The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean Islands has deteriorated dramatically over the last 12 months & she said.
& # 39; Urgent action is needed to address the desperate circumstances in which thousands of people live. What we see in practice tells me that human rights are not respected. This is an unacceptable situation & # 39 ;.
As the parliament will approve a stricter new migration law this week, the Greek government has said it has to process around 75,000 asylum applications.
Mijatovic said there are an estimated 100,000 refugees and migrants in the country.
Despite regular movements of people to the mainland, more than 34,000 people live in overcrowded Greek island camps.
The government has promised to move 20,000 of them to camps on the mainland before the end of the year.
Dunja Mijatovic said at the end of a five-day visit to Greece that & # 39; urgent action & # 39; needed to handle the & # 39; desperate circumstances & # 39; in which migrants live to tackle (photo: the Ritsona camp near Athens)
& # 39; There is a crying lack of medical care and sanitation in the hugely crowded camps that I have visited. People stand in line for hours to get food and go to the bathroom if they exist, & said "Mijatovic."
& # 39; On Samos, families carve stones to make room on steep slopes to set up their makeshift shelters, often made by trees that they cut themselves. This no longer has anything to do with the reception of asylum seekers. This has become a struggle for survival. & # 39;
Mijatovic urged the Greek authorities to speed up the transfer of the islands and to increase the capacities of local hospitals that are currently unable to handle the tension.
It also called on other EU countries to offer more than just financial support by accepting more asylum seekers, in particular unaccompanied minors who now have more than 4,000.
Mijatovic (photo), who visited camps on the islands of Lesvos and Samos and in Corinth, added that she was upset & # 39; was due to the unsanitary conditions in which asylum seekers live
Mijatovic said there are an estimated 100,000 refugees and migrants in the country (photo: the Ritsona camp near Athens)
& # 39; The solidarity that Greece needs is not there … I am talking about real action, including other European countries taking responsibility & she said.
& # 39; People suffer enormously. It is not something I can keep looking at without raising my voice … what I can judge is that there is not enough political will.
& # 39; In a sense, we are not showing that Europe is still a place where human rights are respected. It is not just Greece. & # 39;
In her home country of Bosnia, there are around 10,000 asylum seekers in a camp near a minefield, Mijatovic said.
The new conservative government of Greece, which took over in July, has vowed to tighten the asylum rules, to step up patrols at sea to deter migrating boats and to send 10,000 people back to Turkey next year.
The Greek parliament planned Thursday to adopt a new migration law that sets out the policy changes, but Mijatovic says that the draft she saw raises & # 39; concerns from a human rights perspective & # 39 ;.
Human rights groups have also criticized the bill and claim that it introduces stricter rules for receiving asylum seekers and delays access to the right to work.
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