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Human rights NGOs urge Greece to transfer refugees

Open letter from 19 groups urges PM Alexis Tsipras to act

23.10.2017
Human rights NGOs urge Greece to transfer refugees FILE PHOTO

By Magda Panoutsopoulou

ATHENS

Human rights organizations are urging the Greek authorities to alleviate living conditions for thousands of migrants reaching the country’s island from Turkey.

Human Rights Watch in a report published on Monday said thousands of asylum seekers are living in awful conditions on the Greek islands reception centers.

Nineteen organizations have sent a direct letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urging him to end restrictions imposed on them and to immediately transfer asylum seekers to the mainland.

Researcher Eva Cosse told Anadolu Agency: “[Relocation] is definitely going to change their living standards for the better. Living in a camp with more than 5,000 people [designed for a little bit more than 2,000] like Moria, even for a week, has a huge toll on the well-being of people.”

In the open letter to the Greek premier, human rights and aid organizations stated that “migrants and refugees, including very young children, single or pregnant women, and people with physical disabilities, are trapped in abysmal conditions, forcing them to remain in conditions that violate their rights and are harmful to their well-being, health, and dignity, cannot be justified by the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal”.

Centers on Samos and Lesbos, where a total of more than 8,300 asylum seekers and migrants are living in hotspot facilities meant for just 3,000, are the worst affected, the report added.

“On Lesbos, I met people living in hazardous abandoned buildings, or two Iranian brothers living under a truck for more than 12 months, because ‘conditions are better than in Moria,’” Cosse said.

“The authorities can definitely do better than that on the mainland, and they should use the funds available to do so. People would also have better access to specialized services, hospitals and support,” Cosse said.

Government figures say that more than 13,000 people, mostly Syrians and Iraqis fleeing their war stricken countries, are stuck on Greek islands in eastern Aegean side.

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