Concern Over Deaths in Greek Refugee Camps

A refugee in Lesbos camp on Jan. 7A refugee in Lesbos camp on Jan. 7

A third person has died in a week in the Moria Refugee Camp on Greece’s Lesbos Island, raising alarm about the grim winter conditions in overcrowded facilities that critics have denounced as deplorable.

The dead man is believed to be about 20 years old and from Pakistan, a police official on the island said. Another man who shared his tent was critically ill and taken to hospital, Aljazeera reported.

The death at the island’s Moria camp follows those of a 22-year-old Egyptian and a 46-year-old Syrian who shared a tent and died days apart. Greek media reported they had inhaled fumes from a heater, but authorities would not confirm or deny that.

Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas ordered an investigation into the deaths, the causes of which remain unclear. Steps would be taken “to make the situation more manageable”, he was quoted as saying by Athens News Agency. 

“We wonder how many deaths it will take for the government to wake up,” said Stavros Theodorakis, leader of the small centrist party To Potami.

At least 3,000 refugees and migrants are living in Moria, a hilltop former military base where conditions have deteriorated as they await, for months, word on their future.

The United Nations refugee agency and other international organizations have urged Greece to improve conditions at its overcrowded facilities.

As a mid-winter freeze gripped parts of the country earlier this month, thousands of asylum seekers endured sub-zero temperatures. Summer tents on Lesbos were weighed down by snow.

Across Greece, more than 60,000 refugees and migrants-most from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan-have been stranded since last March, in formal or makeshift camps, which US-based group Human Rights Watch has described as “deplorable and volatile.”

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