By Payton Saso
The Greek Islands attract thousands of tourists every year, but many are oblivious to the refugee crisis that is plaguing the country. Greece is an access point to Europe for those fleeing countries in the Middle East and South and Central Asia.
On September 9, 2020 over 12,000 of the countries 50,000+ refugees were displaced after a fire raged at the Moria refugee camp. The Moria camp is Europe’s largest refugee camp, according to The New York Times, and is overrun with overpopulated tents, makeshift toilets and little to no access to water and healthcare.
The camp, which is located on the Greek Island of Lesbos, burned as fires were set by those living there over two days, the Associated Press reported. “The first one Tuesday evening set by residents angered by quarantine measures imposed to contain a COVID-19 outbreak after 35 people tested positive.”
While officials say the fire was started my the refugees in the camp, some migrants told BBC, “the fire had broken out after scuffles between migrants and Greek forces at the camp. Several blamed “far-right Greeks” for the blaze after the announcement of coronavirus cases.”
While no deaths have been reported in the aftermath of the fires, “some people experienced breathing problems because of smoke inhalation,” NPR reported.
Many feared that a disaster was on the brink for years as the 12,000 refugees were living on land only meant for about 3,000 in extreme inhumane conditions.
Since 2015, the Moria camp has taken in refugees when almost 850,000 people seeking asylum travelled into the EU. When the camp first started, people would only stay for a few days before being let into other European countries; however, “that changed drastically in March 2016, when the EU signed its so-called refugee deal with Turkey. Since then, refugees have had to endure long stays before being sent to other EU countries or being deported,” DW.com explained.
With the refugee crisis once in the headlines again, humanitarian groups are urging people to get involved and also educated themselves on the crisis.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) says that most refugees end up settling in Greece and need help with unemployment as the rate of unemployment is high across the country. Many unaccompanied minors and women make up the population of refugees in Greece and are at risk of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
With many refugees displaced, these dangers are at an all time high.