Greece extends migrant camp lockdown despite criticism

Source:AFP Published: 2020/7/5 16:03:40

Migrants hold placards as they demonstrate, waiting at the buffer zone in front of the Pazarkule border crossing to Greece, in Edirne, Turkey on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Greece on Saturday announced another extension of a coronavirus lockdown in its teeming migrant camps, despite allegations that it has used the pandemic to limit the movement of migrants.

The camp lockdown began on March 21 and is now extended until July 19, the migration ministry said.

Migrants are allowed to leave the camps from 7 am to 9 pm only in groups of less than 10 and no more than 150 people per hour, it said.

Migrants are frustrated with the fifth extension of the lockdown in camps, saying that it makes their lives even more difficult. 

"I really don't have an idea why they are doing this. I feel so bad, so down because of it," Hamoudi, an asylum-seeker from Somalia and resident of the Vial camp on Chios island, told AFP. 

The 24-year-old said he saw no social distancing in the camp and could not think of any health benefits of the lockdown for the migrants.

"Maybe they just want to make it a closed camp," he said. "But closed for what?"

The camp lockdown has stopped most NGOs from carrying out normal deliveries of clothing, nappies and other necessities. 

"We can't get adequate aid to people. They are messaging us from inside the camp," said Ruhi Akhtar, a volunteer on Chios who regularly gave out clothes and other provisions before the lockdown.

Parwana Ansari, a 16-year-old from Afghanistan who lives in the Vial refugee camp, said people needed to leave the camp just to get the basics. 

"We need to go to town to go shopping," she said. "The food in Vial is no good."


Posted in: EUROPE

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