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  • Refugees and migrants line up during food distribution at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece October 6, 2016

    Refugees and migrants line up during food distribution at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece October 6, 2016 | Photo: Reuters file

Published 9 January 2019

An Oxfam report reveals overcrowding, and lack of screening, water, hygiene, sanitation and staff at an EU refugee camp in Lesbos. 

An Oxfam report has exposed inhumane conditions being suffered by refugees at a European Union-sponsored camp at Moria located in the Island of Lesbos. A woman was founded dead, at the camp, in the early hours of Tuesday, under below freezing temperatures.

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The conditions for women at the camp are particularly challenging. The report found that some women were sent back to the camp just days after giving birth. While, refugees were lumped together with no regard to the special conditions surrounding them.

Survivors of sexual violence and other traumatic experiences are put together with other refugees in places where fights regularly break out, leading to two-thirds of residents stating they feel unsafe.

“In a few extreme cases, women say they have resorted to wearing diapers at night to avoid having to go to the toilet after dark,” according to the report.

Another issue at the camp is overcrowding.

“For much of the year, Moria and other EU hotspots on the Greek islands have been at more than double their capacity. So often vulnerable people are crammed into a container if they’re lucky, a makeshift tent if they’re not, with up to nine or 10 or even more people,” Oxfam’s head of Mission Renata Rendon explained.

The camp is also lacking in “sufficient access to water, sanitation, and hygiene,” Rendon added. Another issue is, the migrants are lacking information to help them determine their future options and interpreters to help them access it.

Moria, which holds approximately 5,000 people, is one the EU’s camps that is used for registering and processing incoming asylum claims. The camp is filled to nearly twice its capacity.

The lack of screening of people who are placed in the camp also creates a variety of issues. Namely, people who are suffering from traumatic experiences - “sometimes mental illnesses” and “physical disabilities” - are put together with other refugees in regular conditions, thus exacerbating their current conditions.

The understaffing at the camp is also a highly problematic issue for the refugees. In 2008 there was only one doctor assigned to screen as many as 2,000 new arrivals each month.

In 2016, the EU reached a deal with Turkey which consists of the reduction of the number of people arriving on the continent and seeking asylum in the Greek islands have been prohibited from leaving the so-called hotspot camps to travel to the mainland. The result of this policy is that 15,000 men, women and children are stranded on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros.

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