Nearly 42,000 refugees remain in overcrowded detention camps as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads, with refugees lacking access to essential items and services, such as soap and water as well as basic health care. Despite calls from civil society and the European Commission to release detainees into adequate alternatives and after several detainees tested positive, the government instead ordered an immediate lockdown of the camps. Human Rights Watch said that the conditions on the islands make it impossible to adhere to the appropriate public health guidelines designed to curb the outbreak: “Restricting thousands of women, men and children in severely overcrowded camps, where living conditions are unacceptable, makes it impossible to isolate people exposed to Covid-19 or to comply with minimum preventive and protective measures, even hand washing and social-distancing.”
On 21 April 2020, 148 asylum seekers at a hotel managed by the IOM tested positive for Covid-19. The hotel in Kranidi is hosting some 450 asylum seekers and has been quarantined since last week after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19. The Greek Minister for Migration announced on 20 April 2020 that around 1,500 of the most vulnerable people living in the Moria camp would be evacuated on a specially chartered ship to mainland Greece by the end of this week.
On 9 April 2020, a riot broke out in the Eleonas women’s prison due to the death of an inmate. Prisoners are worried that the death was due to Covid-19 and are requesting that immediate measures to prevent the spread of the disease be implemented.
- International Detention Coalition, “Key Developments on Immigration Detention & Alternatives: Covid-19,” accessed on 21 April 2020, https://idcoalition.org/covid-19/key-developments/
- DW, “Coronavirus: Greece Quarantines Migrant Camps,” 5 April 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/greece-quarantines-migrant-camps/a-53022767
- DW, “Coronavirus Surfaces in Greek Migrant Camp,” 2 April 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-surfaces-in-greek-migrant-camp/a-52999309
- K. Fallon, “Greece: 148 Refugees Test Positive for Covid-19, all Asymptomatic,” 21 April 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/greece-148-refugees-test-positive-covid-19-asymptomatic-200421134039733.html
- Ekathimerini.com, “Riot in Women’s Prison in Thiva after Detainee Dies,” 9 April 2020, https://www.ekathimerini.com/251519/article/ekathimerini/news/riot-in-womens-prison-in-thiva-after-detainee-dies
- Refugees Wearing Face Masks as Protection from the Coronavirus gather at the Entrance of the Hotel in Kranidi, (Thanassis Stavrakis, The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, “Greece: 148 Refugees Test Positive for Covid-19, all Asymptomatic,” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/greece-148-refugees-test-positive-covid-19-asymptomatic-200421134039733.html)