Barbed wire and surveillance cameras – no one is allowed in or out of the new Greek refugee camp
A refugee camp for migrants has been opened on the Greek island of Samos, where no one is allowed in or out. The camp is closed off with barbed wire and there are surveillance cameras, X-ray scanners and magnetic doors.
Only people with a chip card have access and the gates remain closed in the evening and at night. It is the first camp to be set up in this way, with what is called ‘closed and controlled access’. Four more are to follow on other Greek islands, including Leros.
‘Asylum seekers are not criminals’
According to the government in Athens, the living conditions in the camp are a lot better than in the old camps, such as the Moria camp on Lesvos that burned down last year. They are overcrowded and people live there in appalling conditions.
However, human rights clubs are concerned about the new closed camps. They find the access restrictions far too strict. The closed reception centers would, among other things, ‘restrict asylum seekers’ access to services’ and ‘increase the harmful effect of incarceration on people’s mental health’, according to some 50 NGOs, including Amnesty International.
Mireille Girard of the UN Refugee Agency says: “Asylum seekers deserve protection. They are not criminals or a risk to the community, they are people who need help. We think the camps should be open.”
Many asylum seekers have arrived in Greece in recent years via Turkey, especially from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, although the numbers have shrunk by 90 percent compared to 2019, Greek asylum minister Notis Mitarachi said. According to humanitarian aid organizations, this is because the boats with refugees are systematically pushed back to sea. The Greek government denies that.