A potential coronavirus outbreak could happen exposed asylum seekers crammed from the reception and identification centers around the Aegean.
The European Parliament has combined NGOs in calling on Greece to instantly decongest the refugee camps and shield individuals trapped in the Greek islands.
We are aware that the virus thrives in areas where inhabitants reside in close quarters with restricted access to sanitation. Envision the reality for refugees and asylum seekers in Moria, Greece, in which you will find a shocking 203,800 individuals per km2, as stated by the IRC’s investigation, together with as many as 1,300 sharing one water tap into certain areas of the camp.
“Europeans are remaining in the home, cleaning their house, washing them, perhaps not visiting crowded places. But here? We must stay in line for meals. And those lines are extremely bloated. I see a lot of older folks in these lines and it makes me feel very sad because I understand that when coronavirus comes, the majority of them will perish,” states 24-year-old RA out of Afghanistan, among those beneficiaries of our semi-annual program about the island of Lesvos.
There’s not any doubt the overcrowding in the camps has to be managed immediately, however, the question remains the way to do this efficiently, amidst a Europe-wide collective lockdown.
Empty resorts are an Issue but can also be an option
For resort owners and their employees, it’s a recipe for still another tragedy the hospitality industry will have to face. With more than 38,000 tourist lodging establishments, such as hotels, hostels, rooms for rent and over 1,340,000 mattress areas, this usually means a serious blow for the Greek market.
Since EU member countries struggle with COVID-19 exit plans, possible travel limitations in the subsequent months stay an excellent unknown. Hotel owners and workers around Greece are rightly worried about their companies with the doubt of the upcoming tourist season. At precisely the same time, tens of thousands of refugees around the Greek islands are worried about their survival, since they can’t isolate and shield themselves from COVID-19.
Facilitating refugee access to empty accommodation on the islands, and setting a reasonable payment strategy for those owners beneath available EU funds, is an option that could benefit both refugees and locals. Back in the winter of 2016, in the aftermath of severe snowfalls in Greece, this alternative saved several lives. Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established a call to get a tendering procedure for refugee lodging on the various islands, aiming to supply individuals with secure refuge for 3 months. Given the apparent benefits this alternative would bring into the Greek companies, we’re relying upon the resort proprietors to react favorably to the call. A similar version is currently being used in many European cities, such as Brussels, in which a vacant hotel was become a secure refuge for homeless individuals or Madrid, using a hotel hosting refugees through the continuing coronavirus crisis.
But, hotels can function just as a temporary repair. What refugees and asylum-seekers desire in the long term are alternatives approved by the regional communities, making sure that they can locate themselves in settings that encourage their integration, emotional wellbeing and provide them an opportunity to get control of their futures. These should be promoted far beyond the present emergency to prevent the situation of overcrowding, dire living conditions and fatal risks now seen in the Greek islands from replicating itself anytime in the long run.
The European Commission has just announced the growth of a fiscal package for emergency assistance for refugee integration and lodging, which means new hope for individuals languishing on the islands. And as exhibited by the global Rescue Committee’s experience in conducting a supported living program for unaccompanied children in Athens, supplying refugees with appropriate accommodation and personalized support is an effective strategy.
Transferring people from camps and investing in other models of lodging, such as apartments, or encouraging resorts to sponsor the evacuees, isn’t simply a potent act of solidarity with refugees, but also a life-line into a now-struggling hospitality industry and Greek individuals severely affected by this catastrophe. But whatever measures are implemented today to combat COVID-19, they ought to constitute a portion of this remedy to permanently cover the humanitarian crisis in Greece, which began before the coronavirus dominated the headlines.
It’s exposed, but the way the emptiness left by an absence of coordinated EU response to this problem about the Greek islands reluctantly influences the most vulnerable populations within Europe’s borders in the aftermath of a sudden health crisis.