A refugee camp has opened on the Greek island of Samos, where no one is allowed in or out. The camp is fenced with barbed wire and there are security cameras, x-ray scanners and magnetic doors.
Only people with a smart card can enter and the gates remain closed in the evening and at night. It is the first camp created in this way, with what is called “closed and controlled access”. Four more will follow on the other Greek islands, including Leros.
‘Asylum seekers are not criminals’
According to the government in Athens, living conditions in the camp are much better than in the older camps, such as the burnt Moria camp on Lesvos 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 that the access restrictions are very strict. Closed reception centers would, among other things, “restrict asylum seekers’ access to services” and “increase the detrimental impact of imprisonment on people’s mental health,” according to nearly 50 NGOs, including Amnesty International.
“Asylum seekers deserve protection,” says Mireille Girard of the UN Refugee Agency. They are not criminals or a danger to society, they are people who need help. We think the camps should be open.”
Greek Asylum Minister, Notis Mitarashi, said that in recent years, many asylum seekers have arrived in Greece via Turkey, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, although numbers have shrunk by 90% compared to 2019. According to humanitarian aid organizations, this is due to repatriation. Boats that systematically carry refugees out to sea. The Greek government denies this.
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