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Lockdown Should Not Discriminate Against Migrants, Refugees

Greece Extends Covid-19 Lockdown at Refugee Camps

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Moria camp on Lesbos, Greece

Adib Mohammad, MCAT
Our responsibility is to inform people about coronavirus. We should take care of ourselves.

Adib Mohammad, MCAT
I am Adib Mohammad, from Afghanistan. I’m a pharmacist. I’ve lived in Moria camp for about five months. And now, I am an active member of a team to raise awareness about coronavirus in the camp. 

I believe there aren’t any health services inside the camp.

If we can’t treat coronavirus, at least we should prevent it. And we are telling people how to protect themselves from the virus.

All of our members are from inside the camp, no one is from the outside. 

Due to the very bad situation and unhygienic conditions, if we have one positive case of coronavirus here in the camp, it will lead to a big human disaster.

The government decided to lock down the camp and prevent people from going to the city.

There are many places where [the spread of] this virus can happen, like the food lines in which thousands of people stand very close to each other. That is very dangerous, and unfortunately, we don’t have enough water here to wash our hands or take showers regularly.

Greece should immediately take measures to protect people in the Greek island camps.

It should reduce overcrowding and increase access to adequate healthcare, water, sanitation, and hygiene products.


The Greek government has begun easing lockdown measures, given the country’s success in keeping Covid-19 under control. Starting last week, people could leave their homes without authorization, most shops have re-opened, and older students have returned to the classroom.

However, the same is not true for asylum seekers or migrants living in accommodation allocated for migrants, either on the Greek mainland or in the overcrowded reception centers on the Aegean islands.

On Sunday, the government said it would extend lockdown measures in those centers until May 21, saying “urgent reasons of public interest … make it necessary to take measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 in areas of overcrowding, such as the RICs [reception centers] and the structures hosting third-country nationals.”

While taking steps to contain Covid-19 infections is key, Greek leaders should treat everyone – including migrants and asylum seekers – the same, without discrimination. And while restrictions on freedom of movement to protect public health can be necessary and justified, they have to be backed by scientific evidence.

These restrictions have no such grounding. By May 11, 2,726 Covid-19 cases and 151 deaths have been reported in Greece. This includes 11 cases in the local population on the islands hosting asylum seekers, according to media reports. No cases have yet been identified in the island camps.

In fact, Greek authorities, despite financial support from the European Commission, have not taken basic steps to protect the people in these centers from Covid-19. They haven’t addressed the overcrowding and lack of health care, or the lack of access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene products like soap. Despite announcing on April 16 that it would transfer 2,380 people from the island camps, to date the government has transferred only 823 people. As of May 6, 34,052 people lived in the camps on the Greek Aegean islands – over 6 times their capacity.

Additionally, in 2 newly established migrant facilities on the mainland, in Malakassa and Serres, over 2,000 newly arrived people have been kept in forced quarantine since March in unsanitary and cramped conditions, without evidence that any of them have contracted the coronavirus. The World Health Organization recommends a 14-day isolation period.

The Greek government should continue to reduce crowding at camps, lift arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on migrants’ freedom of movement, and protect their health.

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