UNHCR urges Greece to improve living conditions of refugee camps

UNHCR urges Greece to improve living conditions of refugee camps

[JURIST] The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website] on Friday expressed concern [press release] over the poor living conditions of several refugee camps located in northern Greece. Refugees were recently transferred [official report] to the sites of concern after being properly evacuated from the makeshift camp at Idomeni, located on the Greek border. While it was agreed that evacuation was a necessary action, the UNHRC deplored the lack of toilets, showers, electricity, air circulation, food, water and aid in the new camps, in violation of basic human rights. Refugees echoed the UNHRC’s concerns, stating that the new camps do not adequately provide basic requirements. The UNHRC is currently cooperating with the Alternate Minister of Interior to improve conditions where possible and find alternatives that meet humanitarian standards.

The rights of refugee and migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world. Last month, several aid organizations urged [JURIST report] EU leaders to stop deportations of migrants from Greece to Turkey and to stop detaining asylum seekers. Also last month, Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] that the first deportation of 66 people from the Greek island of Chios to Turkey was “riddled with an array of irregularities.” This deportation is significant, as it gives the EU cause for concern over Turkey’s respect for human rights, and earlier in April the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called on [JURIST report] Turkey to focus on human rights in the wake of their anti-terrorism security measures. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] world leaders to accept more refugees and to combat the growing international anti-refugee sentiments. In addition, last month, an independent UN human rights expert encouraged EU leaders to remain steadfast [JURIST report] in their obligations to handle the recent influx of migrants to the EU and to avoid making Turkey the “gatekeeper”