As Europe grapples with the challenges of the coronavirus crisis, concern is also growing over the living conditions of migrants and asylum-seekers living in camps on the Greek islands, particularly among members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
On Friday, the European Parliament issued a statement on its website noting that ”In a virtual meeting, the Civil Liberties Committee discussed the current border situation and the need to avoid this humanitarian crisis turning into a public health issue with the Greek government.
“Representatives from the European Commission, Frontex and the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency joined MEPs in stressing the importance of solidarity and the unity of the European Union to help mitigate the growing crisis.”
It is noted that the Commission has also set up an emergency contingency plan and regularly monitors the situation, and has adopted new measures to assist Greece on this issue.
Two rapid border interventions were launched, additional border guards have been deployed and Greece activated the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, resulting in more than 90,000 essential items being provided to the camps by EU member states.
All migrants arriving at the hotspots now undergo a mandatory health check. Newly-arrived people, as well as those who have been rescued, are kept in separate areas until their medical screening has been completed.
The Commission has allocated a budget of €350 million in continued support for Greece, where most of the refugees and migrants are arriving, €50 million of which will be for medical care.
MEPs are, however, calling for greater support, more accommodation facilities and medical equipment, extending relocations to families, and extending existing asylum deadlines. They are also considering doing interviews virtually instead of in person for added safety.
The Commission has proposed an additional budget of €350 million for the construction of new camps on the mainland of Greece and new apartments, which will, however, require approval from Parliament.