Monday

26th Jul 2021

Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge

  • The Kara Tepe camp in Lesbos has been dubbed 'Moria 2.0' (Photo: Choose Love)

After the sprawling Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos burned down last year, the EU and its leadership declared an end to such ghetto-like conditions.

But its replacement, which many have dubbed 'Moria 2.0', has felt like an empty promise for those currently freezing in tents with no heating.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Among them is 18-year old Yasser Akbari, who arrived from Afghanistan almost two years ago.

"I think the biggest difference is the people," he said, when asked to describe the conditions at the old camp compared with its new replacement.

"I saw people in the previous camp, they had some sort of look, they had some sort, I don't know, an expectation for the future, which they don't have now," he told EUobserver over the phone on Thursday (21 January).

Moria 2.0, officially known as a Kara Tepe, is now home to some 7,100 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.

Perched on a former shooting range at the edge of the island, the camp is exposed to the wind and driving rain from the sea.

Earlier this month, the first snow in years only added to the misery of those having to endure already cold and wet conditions.

Generator-fed electricity is only available for a few hours a day and is mostly used to power lights and mobile telephones.

"Even in the previous camp, in the first Moria, we had this problem. When it was winter, for the entire season we didn't have electricity," said Akbari.

No electricity or running water

There is no running water in Kara Tepe. Instead it is trucked in. And showers didn't arrive until mid-December, months after the camp was first built.

Akbari says the fear of the pandemic has only compounded the problems they face.

People are allowed to leave the camp under strict conditions but must return before an early evening curfew or face a €500 fine, if caught.

That is an impossible sum, says Akbari. He says the camp food is also poor.

"Most of the time we receive food where the rice is not even cooked, it is raw and the meats are outdated," he said.

Although there is more police presence than in the old Moria, horror stories of rape and violence against women and children still emerge.

Last December, a three-year old girl was found bleeding and unconscious in a camp toilet.

She had been raped, a diagnosis confirmed by local medical staff.

A German federal minister has accused the Greek government of negligence, noting that doctors have had to treat babies with rat bites.

Two families sometimes have to share a single tent, using a blanket to divide it into two for some privacy.

With conditions so bad, the Greek ministry of asylum and migration ordered NGOs and all other personnel "not to disclose, make public, reveal or dispose" information about the camp.

The issue has riled some MEPs.

In a European Parliament debate last week, Dutch MEP Sophia In 't Veld accused the EU of hypocrisy.

"Do we all remember the debate last summer where we said, 'No More Morias'? And yet again we are looking at images of people living in mud, children walking barefoot," she said.

"Where is president [Ursula] von der Leyen, where is commissioner [Margaritis] Schinas who is responsible for our 'European Way of Life'. Is this our European way of life, honestly?"

European Commission vice-president Schinas has argued that Moria was due to a "lack of Europe", given the lack of member state solidarity with Greece.

But it is also worth noting the European Commission itself created the so-called 'hotspot' concept that led to Moria.

And it has consistently denied direct responsibility, pointing the finger at the government in Athens.

When people in Moria woke up to heavy snow in early 2017, the commission declared the situation as "untenable".

"Ensuring adequate reception conditions in Greece is a responsibility of Greek authorities," an EU commission spokesperson said at the time.

Now it has declared a more hands-on approach, setting up a taskforce with the Greek authorities to create a more permanent facility sometime in September this year.

For its part, the European Commission says it has been working intensively together with the Greek authorities to improve the situation in the temporary camp. But construction for the new permanent site has yet to start.

Fabian Bracher, a field manager in Lesbos for the charity Choose Love, says the location for the new building is far away from the local islanders.

"By foot to the nearest village with shops, it takes about one hour to walk," he said.

EUobserved

Moria is EU's shame

The European Commission will attempt to spin its way out of bearing any responsibility for the disaster that is Moria. Piecemeal efforts to help those in Moria will not resolve a policy Brussels created.

Asylum seeker stuck almost three years in Moria camp

Anny Nganga, an asylum seeker from DR Congo, has been surviving for almost three years in Moria, a camp on Lesbos island that was recently described as the "single most worrying fundamental rights issue anywhere in the European Union".

New Greek rules stigmatise NGOs working with migrants

New rules in Greece single out NGOs that work with refugees and asylum, in what the Athens government say is a bid to create greater transparency. But refugee groups say the rules are discriminatory and follow an anti-NGO pattern.

EU mulls visa restrictions over migrant returns

The European Commission drafted a confidential report outlining the cooperation of migrant returns in 39 countries. It is now ready to start imposing visa restrictions for those that don't take back their nationals.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Feature

The exploited Sikh labourers babysitting Italy's buffalos

The migrant workers are exploited (by landlords and dairy-businessmen) like slaves. They work up to 14-hours per day, every single day non-stop without any leave, for barely €400 per month. If they get injured, their bosses hide these incidents.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Libyan police lieutenant: 'Coast guard are smugglers'

The Libyan coast guard actively works with smugglers and are run by a militia, an ex-Libyan lieutenant police officer. The EU is buying the guard three new P150 high speed patrol boats.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us