Rare look at life inside Lesbos' Moria refugee camp

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Friday, January 19, 2018
Rare look at life inside Lesbos' Moria refugee camp

Images capture living conditions the Greek island's largest camp, home to thousands of refugees and migrants.

by Kevin McElvaney

Lesbos, Greece - In March 2016, the European Union and Turkey signed a controversial deal to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching Europe.

The agreement came after more than 46,000 refugees had reached the Greek Island of Lesbos in just the two months before it. In April 2016, the month after the deal was reached, the number dropped to 1,766, according to the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR).

As part of the agreement, the Greek government confined refugees and migrants to five islands for the duration of their asylum process.

Today, it is estimated that more than 7,600 asylum seekers live on Lesbos.

Some 5,000 of them live in extremely poor conditions in Moria, the largest camp on the island which has previously been described by some as a "prison".

In November 2017, Lesbos Mayor Spyros Galinos had warned that the island and other border areas could be turning into "concentration camps, where all human dignity is denied".

These images give a rare sight on the conditions inside Moria camp, where journalists cannot enter without the prior agreement of authorities.

An improvised shelter can be seen inside and outside Moria camp. Often just provided with summer tents, people try to make those fit for winter and the harsh weather conditions. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
An improvised shelter can be seen inside and outside Moria camp. Often just provided with summer tents, people try to make those fit for winter and the harsh weather conditions. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
A former military base, the site of Moria camp can easily be mistaken for a prison. Stretching along a hilltop and with many fenced sections, it is confusing to find your way around. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
A former military base, the site of Moria camp can easily be mistaken for a prison. Stretching along a hilltop and with many fenced sections, it is confusing to find your way around. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
An asylum seeker is making tea at one of the camp's rare functioning electricity spots. The network often collapses and people do not have access to power for days. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
An asylum seeker is making tea at one of the camp's rare functioning electricity spots. The network often collapses and people do not have access to power for days. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeer
A Syrian refugee is showing the main electricity switch inside a larger tent, hosting hundreds of people. 'There is no electricity here for weeks and in here it is often colder than outside,' he said. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
A Syrian refugee is showing the main electricity switch inside a larger tent, hosting hundreds of people. 'There is no electricity here for weeks and in here it is often colder than outside,' he said. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
At night, there are many open fires inside the camp. The wood comes from the forest and olive grove surrounding the area, which leads to tensions with the local farmers. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
At night, there are many open fires inside the camp. The wood comes from the forest and olive grove surrounding the area, which leads to tensions with the local farmers. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
Asylum seekers from African countries are typically faced with have a long process. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
Asylum seekers from African countries are typically faced with have a long process. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
Piles of waste are spread all over the camp. Residents accuse authorities of not cleaning the designated areas every week. It is estimated that Moria camp is hosting more than 2.5 times more people than its intended capacity. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
Piles of waste are spread all over the camp. Residents accuse authorities of not cleaning the designated areas every week. It is estimated that Moria camp is hosting more than 2.5 times more people than its intended capacity. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
Some 350 unaccompanied minors and hundreds of children, women, elderly and disabled people live here. The so-called vulnerables still face delays of up to three months over their relocation to the mainland, which should take place sooner. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
Some 350 unaccompanied minors and hundreds of children, women, elderly and disabled people live here. The so-called vulnerables still face delays of up to three months over their relocation to the mainland, which should take place sooner. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
Some residents live in containers, but even here the heating system is not working all the time. A few people seek protection between the structures and build up tents there. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
Some residents live in containers, but even here the heating system is not working all the time. A few people seek protection between the structures and build up tents there. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
A sign reads that the EU and the Greek government spent more than 5.4 million euro ($6.6m) on Moria camp. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
A sign reads that the EU and the Greek government spent more than 5.4 million euro ($6.6m) on Moria camp. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers share a fireplace between their tents. For many Moria camp residents, this is the only way to protect themselves from the plummeting winter temperatures. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers share a fireplace between their tents. For many Moria camp residents, this is the only way to protect themselves from the plummeting winter temperatures. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera
Makeshift tents spread across the olive grove outside Moria camp. People here have no access to electricity or sanitary facilities. [Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera]
Makeshift tents spread across the olive grove outside Moria camp. People here have no access to electricity or sanitary facilities. Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera

Source: Al Jazeera >>>