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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

'Worse than Moria': migrants get to grips with new Greek camp

Moria recently suffered a devastating fire and the new camp has many concerned [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 October, 2020

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Asylum seekers have been relocated to a different camp, where they say there is 'no medicine or electricity'.

Even if their old camp was known as "hell" or "the jungle", asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos say that their new site may even be worse, especially with coronavirus.

Nearly a month after a fire gutted the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp, leaving nearly 13,000 homeless, some residents are far from happy about conditions at the new, smaller facility nearby.

"The new camp is worse than Moria," says Murtaza, a 17-year-old Afghan.

"It only has tents," he tells AFP.

"We don't have medicine, we don't have electricity to cook, and no one knows what will happen when it starts to rain."

With no running water, the residents of Kara Tepe camp have to fetch it from tanks, reliant on trucks coming to replenish the supply.

They bathe and wash their clothes at nearby beaches.

"We have no showers, and not enough toilets. I want to go back home," Ibrahim, an asylum seeker from Burundi, says.

Like many from Moria, he lost all his belongings in the September 8 fire, which has been blamed on arson.

Six young Afghans were arrested in connection with the blaze. They deny responsibility.

To replace their cooking supplies, residents of the makeshift coastal camp have to go to the nearest supermarket.

But their presence has caused tension with locals, worried about the coronavirus.

Chaos and coronavirus

More than 30 people at Moria camp had tested positive for the virus, authorities announced, hours before the fire broke out.

And at Kara Tepe, tests originally detected more than 240 infections.

Nearly 90 people are currently in isolation, kept apart by a wire fence, red tape and police guards.

The camp houses around 8,500 residents, but authorities only allow up to 1,000 people a day to leave until sunset, carrying numbered cards that must be returned on entry.

At the gates, hundreds queue at a metal detector, waiting to return to their tents.

Camp management say they have installed hundreds of portable toilets.

But people working there describe the new camp as "chaotic".

The toilets are always filthy; many residents prefer to use the sea for that purpose.

Many also argue that with coronavirus an ever-present risk, the squat toilets of Moria were safer than entering a small cabin.

"Not everything can be built in 20 days. We have 400 chemical toilets and there is a provision for showers," a camp source told AFP.

Campaigners highlight the long wait that migrants endure for their one meal a day.

They also point to a lack of mattresses and the impossibility of ensuring social distancing.

Earlier this year, Greek authorities insisted that new, more secure camps on the islands were needed to isolate thousands of asylum seekers staying there from the virus.

But Lesbos officials and locals resisted the plan.

In February, clashes with riot police broke out when the government tried to begin building a new camp on the island.

Seven hundred coronavirus cases have been detected in Greek migrant camps since the start of the pandemic, Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi said this week.

A 61-year-old father of two from Afghanistan, who had been living in the Malakassa camp near Athens, died from the virus in hospital last week.

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