Residents of Moria camp must be moved now – Red Cross head

The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca said Moria camp in Greece is not fit for humans, and migrants and refugees staying there must be moved immediately to a safe place.

Around 13,000 people are lacking food, water and shelter, after devastating fires on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. At the time of the first fire the camp was under lockdown due to more than 30 COVID19 positive cases.

“The Moria camp was already unfit for humans before the fire, with four times as many people than it was built for. The situation was extremely unhealthy, with no ability to physically distance to avoid COVID19,” said Mr Rocca, who visited the camp in March.

“Enough is enough. Now is the time to show some humanity and move these people to a healthy, safe and humane place. There are 4,000 children in Moria and no child should have to endure this,” Mr Rocca said.

The president of Hellenic Red Cross Dr. Antonios Avgerinos said his organization had already sent staff and aid and stood ready to do anything it could to assist.

“Our first truck has arrived on Lesvos with 6.5 tonnes of aid, including blankets, water and hygiene kits. We have disaster management experts on site as well as the Lesvos branch staff and volunteers who are skilled in first aid, psychosocial support (PSS) and restoring family links (RFL),” he said.

“One of our mobile health units with 10 nurses trained in emergency health will arrive on Lesvos this afternoon. We also have 10 Samaritans trained in first aid giving assistance on the island already. And we will deploy more medical staff shortly.

“We are ready to mobilise further support and are working in close consultation with local authorities and the Ministry of Migration and Asylum to help with the immediate and long terms needs on Lesvos,” Dr Avgerinos explained.

400 unaccompanied children have already been flown to the mainland and 1,000 of the most vulnerable will be housed on a ship. But thousands more are sleeping on the roadside.

Mr Rocca said evacuating migrants from the Greek islands was a humanitarian imperative and required concrete actions of solidarity by EU Member States.

“This is a European crisis. Simply containing people is not the solution. EU member states’ solidarity with Greece and the people of Lesvos is needed now more than ever. Member States must also ensure that relocated individuals have prompt access to protection and fair asylum procedures, and that includes not carrying out pushbacks,” Mr Rocca said.

Mr Rocca said states are too often using refugees and migrants as part of an unacceptable and immoral political game and said coronavirus had made things “an absolute disaster” for people on the move.

Hellenic Red Cross is also actively responding to urgent migration needs in other camps and urban centres in mainland Greece. Services include mobile health units in several migrant camps, 5 centres for unaccompanied children, 2 multifunctional centres for migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki, educational health services, referral programmes and a national helpline.

These activities were scaled up earlier this year with the support of IFRC’s emergency appeal MDR65003 Turkey/Greece Population Movement.

IFRC’s Emergency Plan of Action is currently being revised and will be adjusted to reflect any additional needs as a result of the fire. Those wanting to respond to the crisis on Lesvos should donate to this appeal.

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