Covid in Greece
In early April covid cases in Greece peaked with a 7-day average of 2,800 new infections. Nonetheless, the tourist season in Greece will start mid-May. Therefore, the first travel restrictions were already lifted in mid-April; people arriving from the EU, the US, UK and other places do not need to quarantine any more. Vaccination on the islands are prioritized, aiming at the full vaccination of 69 islands by the end of April. The Migration Minister said that vaccination of camp residents will begin in May, but as of today there are no clear plans of when and how this will exactly start.
The Blame Game
The Minister of Migration now blames the local authorities for not having agreed to build a safer structure for migrants. He said this ultimately led to the fire in Moria. Moreover, a new Oxfam study says the closure of Kara Tepe Camp is very concerning, as families and vulnerable persons now have to put up with much worse living conditions in Mavrovouni camp (Moria 2.0).
At the same time, the construction of the new controlled and closed camps in the mainland is well underway. On the Aegean islands of Leros and Chios, local opposition remains strong. However, the tender of 13 million euros for the construction is published. On Lesvos, the camp, with a planned capacity of 3,000 people as a pre-detention site for 2,000 people, has been approved by local authorities; the location remains unclear. More details on the worrisome camps can be found in the report by The World, further below (or in the Media Updates section).
No more dignified housing on Lesvos
This week Kara Tepe camp has been closed forever.
The authorities started the procedure very early Monday morning this week, with a first group of 53 people. This group had been told to pack their belongings only a few hours before. After having to stand in line under the rain, police buses took them to the new Mavrovouni camp. During the week the rest of residents, a total of around 600 persons, mostly families with children and other vulnerable people, were moved from Kara Tepe to Moria 2.0.
Kara Tepe Municipality Center housed families that, because of their severe vulnerabilities, had previously been transferred from the old Moria Camp to this location in order to receive support and better living conditions.
Now all these people will go back to living in degrading conditions and to sleeping in tents.
Instead of moving people to safety and dignity, the EU and Greece continue to do exactly the opposite.
Shame on the EU!
Arrivals and Push Backs
“Compared to 2020, in 2021 the flow of refugees and migrants to our islands has decreased by 89%” said Notis Mitarakis, Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum.
This is of course a consequence of the borders being closed due to covid, but also a result of the ongoing push backs of arriving boats by Greek authorities.
Until April 18th, 26 boats with 1,003 people have been reportedly pushed back, and only 145 people on 4 boats arrived.
The Head of Frontex admitted that 132 boats have been “intercepted” since 2020. You can find the Spiegel full report further below (or in the Media Updates section).
In the last 30 days, an unusually high number of 1,924 people were transferred from the islands. Amongst them, there also were people with recognized asylum status, who flew directly to Germany. They were part of the total of 2,765 people whom Germany committed to take in in spring 2020.
With the support of IOM, a total of 3,654 people have been relocated from Greece to many other European countries within 1 year. 733 of them are unaccompanied minors, and 57% from Afghanistan and 24% from Syria. Along with Germany, Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Lithuania and Bulgaria have also taken people in.
On the Aegean islands, there still remain over 12,000 people, a third of which are children, waiting for their future to start.