Migrants flock to Greece -

Emre Tazegul / AP / SIPA

Three migrant camps, located near Athens in Greece, were placed in "total sanitary confinement", this Tuesday and until September 21, after the appearance for the first time of cases of Covid-19 in these structures, announced the Greek government.

"Total sanitary confinement has been imposed on the camps of Malakassa and Schisto (in the north and west of Athens respectively) and Eleonas", near the center of the capital, a government statement said.

Deplorable sanitary conditions

Authorities last week detected a first case of coronavirus in Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, the largest and most sleazy in Europe, housing nearly 12,700 people, more than four times its capacity initial.

After about 1,600 screening tests were carried out, at least 17 people were detected positive for the new coronavirus in Moria.

The presence of tens of thousands of asylum seekers in often unsanitary camps across the country is a source of concern for the authorities.

Last week, the Moria camp and two other camps in mainland Greece were placed in quarantine for 15 days after the emergence of cases of contamination.

The Lesbos Doctors Union called for the strengthening of the island's medical staff, deploring a lack of intensive care units resulting in the transfer of intubated patients to Athens.

This union also calls for "the rapid operation of the structure of the 62 beds, recently offered to Lesbos by the Dutch government and the transfer of vulnerable people outside the camp of Moria", according to a statement published on the local news site "stonisi .gr ”.

Strict traffic measures have been imposed in migrant camps since mid-March.

Greece, little affected by the coronavirus

The government has never lifted these restrictions despite criticism from human rights NGOs deeming these measures "discriminatory" when the decision was taken to deconfin the country in early May.

These NGOs denounce the confinement of asylum seekers in these structures which are not adapted to put in place the necessary barrier measures.

The Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, welcomed Tuesday the reduction since January of 38% in the number of migrants living in the overwhelmed camps located on the five islands of the Aegean Sea, transferred to structures on the continent.

He also welcomed the 90% reduction in the number of migrant arrivals from neighboring Turkey since the start of the year compared to 2019, in an interview on Tuesday on public television Ert.

The minister stressed that "the number of expulsions and relocations of migrants is increasing" and that "the government's objective was to reduce the number of camps across the country".

Since the start of the year, 12 structures in mainland Greece have closed, 55 still operating today.

With 289 deaths from Covid-19, Greece has not been as severely affected as other European countries.

No deaths have been recorded so far in the migrant camps.


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