18 September 2014
MEDITERRANEAN: How First Reception Centres treat migrants
arriving in Greece
[Note: The following has been adapted for CPTnet. The original is available on Hassani’s
Beacon site, The
Silent Tragedies of Greece.]
I spent a lot of time over several weeks talking with
different groups of migrants who had spent at least a couple of nights at Moria,
the first reception center located in Mytilene, Lesbos. The conditions they described were not
what I was expected from a first reception center, which is supposed to be a
shelter for human beings running from wars, conflicts and persecutions.
“There is no shower. They are broken and we could not use any of them,” one of the
migrants said before leaving for Athens.
“The toilets are not working and we had to bring bucket
water to flush manually after using them,” Masoumeh an Afghan woman
said. She had spent two nights in
Moria with her family before traveling to Athens.
“The sewage is coming into the hallways and sometimes even
into the rooms. The beds were very
dirty and so smelly,” Ali, an Afghan man who was in Moria for two nights with
his family, said.
|Moria First Reception Centre|
The reason that migrants have to spend at least one or two
nights in Moria or the other first reception centers is to get paper which is
valid for thirty days before they leave the country for other parts of Europe. This piece of paper protects them from
arrest by the Greek police
It is true that sometimes people exaggerate and I have not
been inside Moria because it is so difficult for human rights observers and
journalists to get in. Nonetheless,
there is no reason to believe that all what the migrants said is false
information or exaggeration.
According to the same migrants, the medical team and UNHCR
staff inside Moria did treat them well.
Unfortunately, the bad news was not only about the hygiene. The water from the tap was contaminated
for a while. And sometimes the
camp runs out of water because the reception center’s water source is the same
supply for Moria village.
“We only got a half liter bottle last night and today
another one. All together from
yesterday evening until today afternoon we got one liter per each. When I asked for more they told me refill
your bottle from the tap,” Razieh, another Afghan woman who spent a night with
her child in Moria, said.
Based on information by the same migrants, there were
unaccompanied minors who have been kept in this first reception center for a
month or even more. A place that
has not basic hygiene services for even one night for adults is the home for
unaccompanied minors for several weeks.
This is not how a reception center for irregular migrants
should be. The migrants who arrive
in Greece should be accommodated by adequate facilities and not by broken
showers or sewage in the hallways.
Moria is one of several first reception centers in Greece.