“Deplorable” conditions endured by refugees and migrants in camps on the Aegean islands must be ended, a group of NGOs said on Tuesday.
Later this month will see the two-year anniversary of a deal between Turkey and the EU aimed at stemming undocumented migration.
However, campaigners are warning that 13,000 men, women and children have been trapped on Greek islands since then “without access to adequate protection and basic services”.
Gabriel Sakellaridis, director of Amnesty International in Greece, said: “The containment policy has turned the Greek islands; once a symbol of hope and solidarity, into open prisons that put the lives of refugees on hold for months on end, causing them additional suffering.
“The Greek authorities, with the support of the EU, need to immediately bring refugees to safety on the mainland.”
Although some 7,000 refugees have been transferred to the mainland, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says there has been 5,000 more arrivals since December, leading to persistent overcrowding at some camps.
“People seeking protection from war or abuse should not feel unsafe when they reach the Greek islands,” said Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at HRW.
“Greek and EU authorities should work to restore the dignity and humanity of people seeking protection, and start by scrapping the containment policy, which has caused tremendous suffering,” says Cosse.