Migration: MSF calls for immediate opening of 'hotspots'

Two months after the signing of the deal by the European Union and Turkey, the situation continues to deteriorate for migrants incarcerated on the Greek islands. MSF reiterates the abject conditions of these incarcerations and calls for the immediate opening of hotspots.

Since 20 March, refugees landing on the islands are sent to lock-down centres. Among them are women and infants and dozens of unaccompanied minors for whom no specific protection measures have been instituted.

Administrative detention is fixed at 25 days in these hotspots – a requirement that is not being complied with. So, beyond the wholly inadmissible nature of these detentions, it is clear that many of the migrants forced to live on top of each other are being held illegally. While the number of people incarcerated in some camps is now more than double than originally intended and there is no separation between men and women living in increasingly precarious conditions, the authorities continue to take more migrants to already overcrowded camps.

According to information obtained by MSF’s teams, water and shelters are in short supply in some centres, sanitary facilities are poorly maintained, hygiene is deplorable and food distributions are haphazard. The teams have also observed a considerable increase in people suffering from stress and wounds caused by violence. Already heightened tensions are escalating everywhere, due to overcrowding and prolonged incarceration. Meanwhile, the migrants are given very little information, even though this would go some way to helping them anticipate at least some kind of future for themselves.

Founded on rejection, the migration policy drawn up by the European Union is achieving what it set out to do as fewer migrants are landing on the islands. But it would appear that the savagery of such a policy is still not deemed sufficient as those who continue to cross the Aegean Sea at the risk of their lives find themselves detained in conditions that are as much deplorable as arbitrary.

This incarceration serves only to aggravate the situation of these refugees who are being treated in an increasingly inhumane and degrading manner. It is both urgent and vital to ease at least some of their suffering by opening up the camps and allowing them to move freely around the islands. MSF reiterates to the European Union and the Greek authorities the abject conditions of these incarcerations and calls for the immediate opening of hotspots.