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In Lesbos, “the Moria 2.0 camp remains a prison”

“I still see the flames that destroyed the Moria camp… and the scenes that followed. For days, we were left to ourselves on stretches of road. We slept on the asphalt, without water, without food ”, says Abo Khaled, a 27-year-old Syrian. Between September 8 and 9, 2020, two successive fires engulfed the insanitary camp of Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos, which at the time hosted nearly 13,000 people, four times its official capacity, and where the violence between ethnic groups exploded.

A year later, in the new Mavrovouni camp, hastily built on a former army shooting site to relocate asylum seekers, only some 3,700 migrants remain. The reunification of certain families, the relocation, in particular of the 400 unaccompanied minors, in other European countries (a commitment made by some governments after the fires), the reduction of arrivals on the Greek islands by 84% in one year, but also the illegal practice of refoulements of migrants in the Aegean Sea, reduced their number.

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But for Daouda, a Burkinabé, who has already spent two years in Lesbos, awaiting a response to his asylum request, “This camp remains a prison like Moria was. The locals nicknamed it “Moria 2.0”. Because apparently the living conditions are better, but it is only an illusion ”. “We are herded like sheep, we don’t know what the future holds. We don’t study, we don’t work, we sleep in tents where we suffocate in summer and where we freeze in winter… ”, continues the thirty-something.

“With the pandemic, the isolation of the refugees has been reinforced”, explains Konstantinos Psykakos, head of mission for MSF in Lesbos

For Konstantinos Psykakos, head of mission for Médecins sans frontières (MSF) in Lesbos, “Moria no longer exists, but the idea behind the creation of this camp, originally designed to lock up refugees and discourage candidates from across the Turkish shore from coming, continues.” In the MSF psychiatric clinic, the number of consultations is exploding, more than 90% of patients suffer from depression. “With the pandemic, the isolation of refugees has been reinforced. They cannot easily get out of the structure, access hospitals, legal aid, and the children do not go to school ”, sums up the humanitarian.

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