- Title: Greece's Lesbos island buckling under weight of migrant problem
- Date: 11th October 2016
- Summary: LESBOS, GREECE (OCTOBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) WOMAN SITTING NEXT TO TENT WHERE CLOTHES HANG TO DRY WOMAN LOOKING AT HER MOBILE PHONE AS SHE SITS (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNHCR SPOKESMAN ON LESBOS ROLAND SCHOENBAUER SAYING: "If Europe does not relocate more asylum seekers from Greece then tensions will reoccur, and it's simply not possible to pack more people into the same space into the same infrastructure and it’s not possible to process their asylum claims in an efficient way, so it’s a lose-lose-lose situation." VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS AT KARA TEPE CAMP WASHING THEIR CLOTHES IN A BRICK SINK
- Embargoed: 26th October 2016 13:30
- Keywords: Europe migrants Greece refugees asylum Lesbos camp
- Location: LESBOS AND ATHENS, GREECE
- City: LESBOS AND ATHENS, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00353K7YVB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Months since the European Union and Turkey signed a deal to shut off the route taken by a million migrants last year, boats now rarely arrive on Lesbos, once at the centre of the human tide.
Orange lifejackets and deflated rubber boats have been taken away from the beaches and piled on a hill, offering a stark reminder of the crisis.
But thousands of migrants remain stranded in the island's two camps, nearly twice the intended capacity.
Most are in Moria camp, originally designed to swiftly identify genuine asylum seekers or those that would be sent back to Turkey, but the asylum process has been frustratingly slow, say migrants.
Amnesty International says food, including baby milk, is often scarce in Moria, and shower and toilet facilities are "extremely unhygienic".
Tents are without heating and rainfall turns dusty paths between tents into mud.
Kamal Hassan Hussein, a 30-year-old Somali, compared Moria to a jail, adding that everyone was tired of waiting for an answer to their asylum claims.
"It's difficult to contact family, it's difficult to eat food, it's difficult to sleep, health, and everyone, we got all stress," he said.
After a protest in September, fire swept through part of Moria camp, a disused hilltop military base, and forced thousands to flee.
Police are investigating the alleged rape of a Pakistani teenager by four other Pakistani youths. Women say they are constantly scared of sexual harassment.
"The living conditions, the overcrowding, and the anxiety about the future of these people. They are waiting and waiting for many months and they need answers, they need clarity," said Roland Schoenbauer, the UNHCR spokesman on Lesbos.
Despite being nominated for the Nobel peace prize for their assistance to the refugees, some residents are now staging protests, exhausted by the violence and overcrowding.
"Soon they will not be able to endure the winter. They will light the trees on fire to stay warm, and the situation will spiral out of control," said local Fotis Papaefstratiou.
The second camp, "Kara Tepe", is run by aid agencies and the local administration. It also faces shortages and difficult living conditions.
Syrian Fathea Khaleta waits for an answer to her asylum claim. Her husband and three grown children are already in Germany while she stayed behind in Syria to try and find out what happened to her son, arrested 3 years ago, but without result.
Greece has been criticised for dragging its feet on processing asylum applications, but says it is overwhelmed and lacks the manpower to process asylum applications faster.
"We are being criticized in Europe that we have delayed, that is not fair. We have delayed but we are at a phase where absolutely everyone is applying for asylum, all of them, absolutely everyone, and the evaluation for asylum has to take place under international standards," Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas recently told parliament.
Schoenbauer said the country must be relieved of the numbers or the tensions will continue and increase, eventually becoming a "lose-lose" situation for all.
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