Greece relocates hundreds of ‘vulnerable’ migrants to mainland from Lesbos camp

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Greek authorities have relocated hundreds of migrants from the overpopulated island camp in Moria, where conditions are deplorable, to the mainland to alleviate overcrowding.

The “vulnerable” migrants were boarded on ferries from the island of Lesbos, according to police and government officials.

Greece has been asked by the European Union numerous times to move migrants most at risk of contracting COVID-19 from overcrowded camps on its Mediterranean islands.

Greece has been the main gateway into the EU for people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond. More than a million people reached its shores from Turkey in 2015-16.

The European Union has been asking Greece to move migrants most at risk of contracting the coronavirus from overcrowded camps on its Mediterranean islands.

Athens had opposed moving them all to the mainland, citing the absence of cases in the camps while the coronavirus was spreading elsewhere in the country.

No coronavirus cases have so far been recorded in Greek island camps. But aid groups have urged Athens to evacuate the camps, warning that the risk of the fast-moving coronavirus spreading amid squalid conditions is high.

The group will leave the Moria camp on the eastern Aegean island, which is close to Turkey.

Greece has been the main gateway into the EU for people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and beyond. More than a million people reached its shores from Turkey in 2015-16.

At least 110,000 people are living in migrant facilities – 40,000 of them in overcrowded camps on five islands.

“The goal is to transfer about 2,400 from island camps to mainland Greece,” a Migration Ministry official said.

Greece, which adopted lockdown measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus on Mar 23, has had 2,626 confirmed cases since its first in late February.

The death toll has been 144, significantly lower than other countries such as Italy, Spain, France and Britain.

No coronavirus cases have so far been recorded in Greek island camps. But aid groups have urged Athens to evacuate the camps, warning that the risk of the fast-moving coronavirus spreading amid squalid conditions is high. (Source: CNA)

 

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