The European Union’s (EU) border policy has caused the death of a nine month old baby in one of Greece’s vast, overcrowded refugee camps.
The baby, the child of Congolese refugees, died of dehydration in the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos. It comes after a fire in the camp killed one person at the end of September, leading to riots.
Some 14,000 people live in the camp, which is only built to house 3,000. It’s just one of many overcrowded camps in Greece—the result of an EU border system designed to keep refugees out of Europe.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of people trying the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey into Greece over the past few months.
More than 45,000 refugees have arrived in Greece by sea this year—compared to 32,500 in all of 2018.
Rather than offer them safety, the Greek government has promised to speed up their deportations at the behest of the EU.
Much of this is the legacy of Greece’s previous government led by the once-radical left wing Syriza party.
Thanks to a deal signed between the EU and Turkey in 2016, refugees entering Greece are captured, held and “processed”.
Those whose asylum applications are deemed to have failed are deported back to Turkey. The result is that tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty are forced into squalid camps for months and years on end while they await their fate.
One camp on the island of Samos holds 3,745. It was built for 640.
Gerogios Stantzos, the island’s mayor, said refugees in the camp are “at risk from fires and floods”.
Riots and outbreaks of disease inside the camps are becoming more common.
“People are camping in dry stream beds,” Stantzos said.
“The situation is not manageable. It gets worse every day. We are past the red line.”
Faced with a rise in arrivals, Greece’s new right wing government has passed a law to drastically increase the number of deportations.
Meanwhile, far right forces—currently isolated by the near total collapse of the Nazis’ Golden Dawn party—are trying to rebuild.
Feeding off the racist climate fostered by the EU and anti-migrant laws, they are attempting to organise protests against “overcrowding”.
One Nazi group held a “pork barbeque” near a refugee camp, believing this would provoke Muslim refugees.
Anti-racist group Keerfa has held counter-demonstrations in response. Led by refugees, they have also marched in Athens against the new deportation law.
A statement from Keerfa said, “We have the power to reverse the racist measures.
“We are fighting to open the borders for safe transportation, and to give asylum to everyone.”