COVID-19 will be called the world’s migrant genocide if nothing is done to help the 42,000 refugees trapped on the Greek Islands – says the EU.
If the world fails to take immediate action, the situation on the Greek islands will become unmanageable with the risk of many deaths says the European Parliament. This is an emergency and we all have to react accordingly with an action plan.
Spanish politician Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar is the head of the civil liberties commission and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).
He belongs to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
He said: “With the first confirmation of a Covid-19 case on Lesbos …one of the main issues to be addressed to avoid the quick and wide spread of Covid-19 on the Greek islands is the urgent preventive evacuation of the overcrowded camps,” Aguilar stated.
“Many of those in the camps are already in a precarious health situation and despite the measures taken by the Greek authorities, the overcrowding and the dire living conditions make it difficult to contain Covid-19.”
His plan includes:
• Preventive evacuation of the population at high risk, including people older than 60 and people with respiratory conditions, diabetes or other diseases that could increase the risk of severe symptoms.
• Increased cooperation efforts amongst Member States’ health care systems;
• Increased financial resources for an increased capacity for hospitalization and intensive Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Relocation: the measures to ensure prompt relocation, in particular of children have to be continued and not put on hold due to the COVID-19 virus.
Meanwhile an online petition addressed to the European Commission and EU governments called #LeaveNoOneBehind had collected more than 290,000 signatures to date.
“To meet this Coronavirus crisis, we need solidarity,” the petition declares. “For Europe to confront this pandemic in unity, overcrowded refugee camps must be evacuated quickly.” It also calls for necessary quarantine and protective measures against coronavirus to be implemented in refugee camps, which have no facilities for hygiene.
Antigone Lyberaki, general manager of SolidarityNow, one of the signatories, said “There is a window of opportunity to address this issue while the situation is still manageable, but we fear this window may be closing fast.”
Last month the Greek government said it would build a new migrant camp around 300 km from the Greek-Turkish land border to house arrested migrants who crossed into the country irregularly. According to the government, the camp will be built near the city of Serres in the northern Greek municipality of Sintiki.
Unlike the government’s plans to build similar camps on the Greek islands, which prompted violent protests from locals, the move for the camp near Serres was unanimously decided by the municipal council.
Overcowding on the Greek Islands has the EU and UN looking at ways to deal with the overcrowded migrants last month.
Migrants can take up the offer for ‘The International Resettlement Programme’ which provides reconnection and repatriation to the migrants’ home country, resettlement and finding a place to live.
They can also apply for resettlement grants for example to start up a small business back home. Field officers on all five Greek Aegean islands (Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros) have been dealing with applications. The migrants are given €2000 before they board the plane home, which is five times what other migrants receive in different situations.