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Greece: Commissioner Mijatovic (Council of Europe); “migrants in desperate conditions. Urgent measures to meet their vital needs”

(Strasbourg) The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović (pictured), who has just returned from a visit to Greece, says she is “appalled” by the conditions in which migrants are kept in reception facilities in Lesvos, Samos, and Corinth. She describes the “desperate conditions”, the “explosive situation” and the “struggle for survival” asylum seekers are confronted with: “This no longer has anything to do with reception”.

The lack of medical care and sanitation in vastly overcrowded camps, people queuing for hours to get food and to go to bathrooms, when these are available, and makeshift shelters – these are just some of the things the Commissioner has seen. The Greek authorities must “take urgent measures to meet the vital needs of all these people and safeguard their human rights”. The decision to transfer 20,000 migrants to the mainland by the end of this year must be “urgently” implemented, although “this plan is unlikely to significantly reduce the overcrowding in the islands”. EU funds “will not solve the problem” if the Greek authorities do not overcome “all the bureaucratic obstacles that are hindering the effective use of these funds” and do not “speed up asylum procedures and returns”. And she added: “The people on the islands do not need another summit nor another co-operation agreement. What they urgently need is that political leaders stop looking away and finally implement the measures that everyone is aware of, but no-one seems ready to embrace”.

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