In the face of the appalling living conditions at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea, a 9-month-old infant has died due to dehydration. The International aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) announced the news late Saturday.
“Children are dying in Greece, Europe because of the horrific living conditions and lack of adequate care. Today there are around 15,000 people trapped in Moria among them 5,000 minors. They should be moved out of this hell now,” said the statement of the MSF, adding that the infant lost his life a few days ago.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and aid agencies frequently warn authorities of the poor conditions refugees live in.
About 15,000 migrants, most of them Afghans, are housed in a space designed for 3,000. Conditions are also similar in the Greek islands of Chios, Samos and Kos, which have all been overwhelmed by the refugee flow due to their geographical proximity to Turkey.
The Greek government has not been allowing them to go to the mainland as many central and eastern European countries have abruptly closed their borders to keep away migrants. Yet, within the scope of the new refugee law, the Greek government plans on moving 4,000 irregular migrants from the islands to the mainland until the end of the month. In contrast to refugee camps established by Turkey, the conditions in Greece are desperate. There have also been several reports of torture by the Greek police.
Lesbos, located some 9 kilometers away from the Turkish mainland, has been a key gateway into the European Union since the start of the bloc's migration crisis in 2015. At the height of the influx, some 5,000 migrants and refugees, mostly from war-torn Syria, landed on the island's beaches on a daily basis.
The refugee influx came at a time when Greece had declared bankruptcy and the Greek islands were particularly affected by the country's debt crisis and subsequent austerity measures due to high living costs and the lack of many basic goods that needed to be transported from the mainland. The country's deteriorating image amid violent anti-austerity protests also took a heavy toll on tourism, the backbone of the islands' economy. Refugees arriving by thousands every day did not help to improve this image, and further deteriorated living conditions for the islanders.