GENEVA – Geneva Council for Human Rights and Justice (GCHRJ) issued a report documenting horrific details of the tragedy of thousands of refugees stranded in Moria camp in Greece, demanding an urgent international solution to the humanitarian violations in the camp.
GCHRJ stated in a press release that the plight of refugees in a refugee camp located in European Union territory, with poor conditions, violence among residents and suicides among 10-year-olds raising alarm bells.
The Council warned that the situation is on the verge of destruction at Moria camp where the spaces are very limited and many refugees live in tents outside the main camp.
The aforementioned camp is the infamous Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea, where some 8,000 refugees reside despite a 2,000 people capacity, according to the report of the U.K. public broadcaster BBC.
The report describes Moria as “the worst refugee camp on earth,” and shows footage of violence between its residents due to overcrowding – a fight even breaks out in front of the BBC crew in the lunch queue where two people are stabbed.
GCHRJ warned that Moria camp is turning into a detention centre where there is no human dignity for migrants who fled the war and poverty and arrived in Greece after a treacherous journey full of dangers to find themselves finally as detainees in such camp.
It was assumed that the refugee’s stay in the camp should not exceed one week after which he would have to go to the Greek mainland in a preparation for his transfer to the host country, while those who did not deserve would be returned to Turkey. Even those applying for asylum have been scheduled for the first hearing to decide on their application in 2020 or 2021.
Moria camp was opened in 2015 with a goal of making it a transit point for people for short periods, but there are those who came to the camp several years ago and has not left yet.
The Greek islands were the EU entry point for 857,000 refugees fleeing war at the height of the migrant crisis three years ago.
Lesbos faded from the headlines until recent demands to close its camps and warnings of a mental health emergency. The conflicts that caused the 2015 exodus have not stopped. Families, young men and women and children continue to make perilous journeys across continents in hope of a better life in Europe.
Meanwhile, a deal signed between the European Union and Turkey foresees the return of irregular migrants arriving in Greek islands to Turkey in exchange of European countries granting asylum to the same number of people from camps in Turkey, which currently houses more than 3.5 million refugees, mainly from Syria.
Several NGOs have fled from the camp in protest, where one tent is occupied by 17 people or each toilet is occupied by 70 people and the smell of raw sewage is all around.
The MSF also left but later was forced to open a clinic outside the camp due to widespread skin diseases resulting from poor hygiene, respiratory diseases from tear gas fired by the Greek police to end fighting or mental health problems.
The camp’s Greek government representative George Matthaiou says it is not Greece but the EU who bears responsibility for the poor conditions.
Migrants have complained to GCHRJ that water supplies are limited, the number of latrines does not meet the need, medical services are severely under-resourced, and there is no psychological support to alleviate the suffering, at a time of daily fighting among the refugees themselves.
In Moria, each family receives 1.5 litres of water per person per day and it is expected that cooking and drinking will be done. You must wake up at 4 am to make sure you will receive your share, which is distributed at 8 am, while the queue is long and the tension is constantly increasing.
Despite the hot weather and overcrowding, some families live in stuffy tents where the air does not enter.
Children in the camp witness everything, they watch their mothers’ breakdown as they reach maximum tolerance. The refugees are and always thinking about how to look for safety and protect their children from sexual harassment and physical diseases, especially there is no medical committees or drugs for any emergency. Children are also going in the morning to join their mothers in this queue, which affects their psychology. Along with limited opportunities for learning in Moria, their parents fear to lose their children’s future. It is likely that Syrian children under the age of 10 have never seen a classroom.
Moreover, there is a fear that children may acquire multiple cultures without supervision, protection and follow-up in the absence of any rights of the child in such camp.
Migrants in Moria are forced to wake up at 4 am for breakfast, which is distributed between 8 am and 8:30 am, just like water. If they do not go, they can not have breakfast at all.
This is done without taking into account the elderly, minors, pregnant women, children, the sick, the injured and the overcrowding of the queue for more than 5,000 thousand refugees distributing food at the same time.
You must reserve a place to pick up breakfast from 5:00 am until you receive it at 8:00 am. The same scene is repeated in both meals, lunch and dinner.
Immigrants complain of poor meals, incomplete cooking and repeating the same types of meals throughout the week, while many foods spoil during distribution under the sun.
The camp is witnessing daily clashes between refugees suffering from terrible psychological pressure. Migrants complain of violent treatment by the Greek police forces when they intervene to resolve the clashes. This usually ends with beatings, repression, expulsion of refugees from inside the camp, launching of gas bombs without taking into consideration the disease, the elderly, women and people with special needs and others.
The failure of the Greek authorities to meet the needs of refugees violates the State’s obligations under its domestic penal and international law, which explicitly states in item 20 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, that the provision of adequate and healthy food to detainees should be provided.
The Human Rights Council affirmed that the conditions of the refugees in Moria camp are in violation of the Convention on Human Rights, in particular, Article III, which states that no one shall be subjected to degrading treatment. He stressed that it is the duty of States to ensure that refugees should not be subjected to cruel and degrading treatment.
The Human Rights Council concluded its report by recalling that article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention stipulated that refugees should be granted the necessary facilities to obtain the admission of another country as asylum seekers if the state in which they are granted asylum does not wish to be granted.