The Moria camp on the island of Lesbos is overcrowded AFP/File
The Moria camp on the island of Lesbos is overcrowded AFP/File

Greece to restrict migrant camp movements in virus measure

Wed, Mar. 18, 2020
ATHENS - 18 March 2020: Greece has said it is placing migrant camps across the country on a two-week shutdown to visitors to ward off the new coronavirus.

"Visits (to camps) by individuals and organizations are suspended for at least 14 days," the migration ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Entry will be allowed only to staff and there will be a compulsory temperature check for new arrivals," it said, adding that residents would be encouraged to limit their movements in and out of the camps.

Greece has progressively tightened restrictions on trade and public gatherings, and the national death toll from the virus now stands at five with 387 cases.

There are tens of thousands of asylum seekers in camps on the Greek mainland and islands near Turkey, and most of them are badly overcrowded.

Hundreds more arrived this month after Turkey announced it would no longer stop people from attempting to reach the EU -- going against a deal reached with the bloc in 2016 -- leading to days of chaos at the Greek border.

In a statement to mark four years since the deal, the Greek Council for Refugees and Oxfam said "suffering has reached unimaginable levels".

"Nothing can justify the indiscriminate detention of people seeking asylum, and Greece should not deny them a safe place during the current health crisis, nor send them back to situations where their lives and freedom are at risk," they said in a joint statement.

Oxfam migration expert Raphael Shilhav said: "While the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis is creating many uncertainties about the future, it is crucial that governments continue to protect the most vulnerable and keep to their promise to offer children safe conditions at this time."

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