Greece: Island Camps Not Prepared for Covid-19 Government Neglect Puts Lives at Risk

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Greece: Island Camps Not Prepared for Covid-19 Government Neglect Puts Lives at Risk

Author: Human Rights Report | hrw.org  22 April 2020 

(Athens) – Greek authorities have not done enough to address the acute overcrowding and lack of health care, access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene products to limit the spread of Covid-19 in camps for asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said today. Greece’s government should immediately take measures to protect those most at risk of Covid-19 in the island camps to avert a public health crisis.

“While the Greek government is working to stop the spread of the virus, the images of the squalid conditions in camps on the islands make clear that it’s not complying with minimum preventive and protective measures against Covid-19 there,” said Belkis Wille, senior Crisis and Conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Even handwashing and social distancing are impossible in these circumstances.”

As of April 20, 2020, 34,875 migrants and asylum seekers lived in the camps on the Greek Aegean islands of Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesbos, and Samos – over 6 times their capacity.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 male asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, and Syria by phone in English and Arabic between April 6 and 16, 2020, and 9 aid workers on Chios, Leros, Lesbos, and Samos islands. Human Rights Watch also analyzed photos and video footage showing the conditions in the camps.

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