The Greek island of Lesbos, one of the main scenarios of the refugee crisis in Europe, is experiencing today a new event that shows the worrying situation of the thousands of people who have arrived on the island fleeing the war. The Greek government has decided to close and evict the Kara Tepe 1 refugee camp, "one of the few places on Lesbos that still provided some dignity and safety to the most vulnerable children, women and men", as Médecins Sans Frontières points out.
According to local media, in the coming days, 400 people will begin to be transferred to the centre set up by the Greek government shortly after the fire at the Moria refugee camp. Médecins Sans Frontières has reported that the first 50 refugees were moved to the new centre in the early hours of last night in heavy rain.
The Moria 2.0 camp has been widely criticised for its appalling conditions. In addition, several organisations have pointed out that it has been built on a former shooting range, as traces of lead have been found. Not all refugees from Kara Tepe 1 will be transferred to Moria 2.0, others will be moved to reception centres and flats in mainland Greece.
"It is devastating to see the deteriorating health of our most vulnerable patients, those we have fought so hard to have removed from camps like Moria and relocated to safer places," said Mara Eliana Tunno, a psychologist with Médecins Sans Frontières. The NGO has highlighted the serious mental health problems suffered by people, especially children, in the aftermath of the Moria fire. "From the very moment they are told the news that they have to return to the camps, the psychological impact they suffer is tremendous," she said.
After the accident in Moria, the disabled and sick were transferred to Kara Tepe 1 because of the good conditions it offered compared to the other centres on the island. This refugee camp, set up in 2015, received vulnerable people from other centres. For this reason it was, according to Médecins Sans Frontières, "the only place that provided a dignified shelter for migrants on the island", setting an example for Greece to follow.
This is not the first time that the Greek government has ignored NGO reports and recommendations and evicted centres that offer good conditions. A few months ago, the Greek authorities decided to close the PIKPA refugee camp and transfer people to Moria 2.0. Médecins Sans Frontières has described these decisions as "cruel and irrational", and calls on Greece to move all the people to a safe place immediately.