World, Europe

Refugees face uncertain future on Greek island

Anadolu Agency spoke to refugees at closed camp as they await possible return to Turkey

Refugees face uncertain future on Greek island ( Omar Marques - Anadolu Agency )


LESBOS, Greece

Since the EU-Turkey refugee deal came into effect more than a week ago, thousands who have landed on the Greek island of Lesbos have been incarcerated in camps.

At Moira, a former military barracks that now acts as an EU “hotspot” for screening refugees, those who have arrived in Greece since March 20 are now held behind concrete walls and razor-wire fences.

“I want to go away from here whenever possible,” Amina, a 40-year-old woman from Syria, told Anadolu Agency. “Ten people stay in a room. I don’t want to go back to Turkey... maybe Germany.”

Anadolu Agency’s correspondent, whose requests for access to the camp were ignored, spoke to Amina through the fence. She described paying $700 to make a short trip across the Aegean Sea with her husband after staying for a month in Turkey.

Her husband died of a heart attack on the overcrowded boat during a panic among the passengers.

Like other refugees, Amira said she had had her fingerprints taken by the Greek authorities but did not know what would happen to her next.

Ali, 22, who like Amira did not want to give his surname, said he had travelled from Lahore in Pakistan. He said he did not have a passport and had paid $1,000 to make the crossing.

He also had no idea what laid in store for him and complained about conditions in the camp.

Moira camp houses around 1,600 refugees. Until the EU-Turkey deal, which facilitates the return of failed refugees to Turkey, came into force, those living in the camp were free to come and go as they pleased, with most boarding ferries to Athens for an onward journey into Europe.

Now it is closed and patrolled by Greek police.

Around 100 refugees who arrived before the March 20 cut-off stay in an informal camp, Kara Tepe, from where they are planning their trips to the Greek mainland.

Under the agreement between Ankara and EU leaders, refugees are to be returned to Turkey after individual assessments. The arrangement is aimed at tackling the smugglers who ferry refugees across the Aegean - a dangerous journey made by more than 1 million since January last year.

However, the deal has angered aid agencies who have said it infringes human rights. The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, has stopped providing transport on Lesbos while Medicine Sans Frontiers has pulled out of Moira.

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