The Greek Islands’ Forgotten Emergency


The Greek Islands’ Forgotten Emergency

Author: Eva Cosse| | 3 July 2019

Neglect Exposes Asylum Seekers to Abuse

A Syrian man reads inside his tent at a makeshift camp outside Moria on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece.

With national elections coming up in less than a week in Greece, the widespread public debate about the country’s economy and future is not surprising. Unfortunately, other important issues are not getting the same attention.

This was brought home to me last week on a visit to Lesbos, the Greek island where thousands of asylum seekers are trapped due to an EU-backed policy that prevents them from travelling to the mainland where services are better.

In 2015, the world’s attention was focused on this issue, and it was a top priority for the Greek government. Now that attention has faded, but the problems remain.

More than 16,500 asylum seekers are trapped on Greek islands, most in the severely overcrowded “hotspot” camps. The largest, Moria camp on Lesbos, holds more than 5,000 people, while on Samos, a camp for 648 people, currently holds more than 3,600. Hundreds are forced to live in the forest surrounding the Samos camp. Thousands of children don’t have access to schools and vulnerable asylum seekers, including pregnant women and people with disabilities, can’t access critical services. Read more>>>