Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Thursday that the situation for migrants, including asylum seekers, on Greece’s Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past twelve months.
Mijatovic was speaking after the conclusion of a five-day visit to Greece during which she visited migrant reception facilities in Lesvos, Samos, and Corinth.
“Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living,” she declared.
The Commissioner spoke in strong terms about the unhygienic conditions in which migrants are kept in the islands. “It is an explosive situation,” she stated. “There is a desperate lack of medical care and sanitation in the vastly overcrowded camps I have visited. People queue for hours to get food and to go to bathrooms, when these are available.
“On Samos, families are chipping away at rocks to make some space on steep hillsides to set up their makeshift shelters, often made from trees they cut themselves. This no longer has anything to do with the reception of asylum seekers. This has become a struggle for survival,” Mijatovic said.
The Commissioner called on Greek authorities to take urgent measures to meet the vital needs of all these people and safeguard their human rights. “If not urgently and adequately addressed, these abysmal conditions, combined with existing tensions, risk leading to further tragic events,” she added.
Migrant and asylum seeker arrivals on the Greek islands continue unabated. According to official data from the Greek Ministry of Citizen’s Protection, a total of 795 new migrants and refugees arrived on Greek shores on Tuesday, October 29 and Wednesday, October 30.