The conditions in which thousands of asylum seekers are being detained on Lesbos at the Moria camp faced criticism from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) which issued a report warning of a burgeoning mental health crisis in the Lesbos camp. Up to 60% of asylum seekers attending the mental health centre set up by the group in Moria this year said they had contemplated suicide, and almost 30% had tried to take their own lives.
Built with a capacity for 3,100 people, the disused former army barracks currently hosts more than 8,500 asylum seekers. Greek authorities moved hundreds to the mainland this week in an attempt to free up space in the centre before the arrival of winter.
“Asylum seekers are expected to live in conditions that do not meet humanitarian standards. Approximately 84 people share one shower. Approximately 72 people share one toilet,” said the IRC report. “The sewage system is so overwhelmed that raw sewage has been known to reach the mattresses where children sleep, and flows untreated into open drains and sewers.”
Although the vast majority of those detained in Moria had fled conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and were “deeply traumatised”, conditions in the camp had exacerbated their trauma.
Although Alexis Tsipras’s government in Athens has been praised for its humane approach towards refugees, it has been chastised for its handling of overseeing the distribution of aid and infrastructure.
“The money existed to transform the camp into a centre that could have resembled the Hilton; instead it is the Moria that is the source of national shame,” said editor-in-chief of the Fileleftheros daily, after the publication of a report alleging corrupt misuse of EU funds.
The European anti-fraud agency confirmed on Tuesday it was investigating “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece”. Athens has received a total of €1.6bn in financial aid for refugees since 2015.
“What is happening in Moria is a disgrace for our country,”an opposition leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said. “Greece has received €1.6bn in funding and the government has created the worst refugee and migrant camp in the world … instead of apologising the government is intimidating and persecuting anyone who is critical of its actions.”