Another fire broke out on the Greek island of Lesvos in the camp of Moria. The flames devastated at least 80% of the camp. Over 12,000 people have fled to the streets around the hotspot or towards the city without a definite plan for evacuation. These include 35 confirmed patients with COVID-19 and possibly many other COVID-19 carriers housed in the camp's isolation centre, which also caught fire. The Greek government has declared a state of emergency on the island.
For years, Still I Rise, along with other organisations, has been denouncing the poor situation of the hotspots on the Greek islands, calling for their immediate evacuation with a fair solidarity mechanism among all European Member States. However, the situation is only getting worse, aggravated by the anti-COVID-19 measures.
«The hotspots on the Greek islands do not reach the minimum standards of hygiene and safety to house animals, let alone humans. Needless to say, washing your hands, keeping two metres away and "staying at home" has never been an option for these people», says Giulia Cicoli, Programs & Advocacy Director at Still I Rise.
«The situation is the result of Greek and European policies that limit the movement of thousands of people who are prohibited from leaving the Greek islands. Instead, they live in devastating sanitary conditions for years, waiting for a response from the authorities on their request for international protection. For years, we have been calling for an immediate evacuation from the hotspots and now this need has become even more urgent since the beginning of the pandemic. The Greek and European authorities have ignored our appeals and now we have the largest refugee camp in Europe completely on fire and 12,000 people, including Coronavirus-positive patients, in the middle of the street without an emergency plan. These people need to immediately be moved to a safe place, and the European Union must work on a migration pact with a system of automatic and fair relocation quotas in the various Member States. The Greek islands have been collapsing for years and this policy of border containment and externalisation must stop». (Press Release)