While it may seem that the refugee-migration crisis is over, more than 100,000 migrants and refugees are still present in Greece. Many of them live in refugee camps, which are not appropriate accommodation solutions because of their location in faraway, poorly connected areas.
“Europe is no longer experiencing the migration crisis we lived in 2015, but structural problems remain”, said Frans Timmermans , Executive Vice-President of the European Commission last March. According to the EU, the refugee-migration crisis is over. The number of people seeking asylum in Europe has dropped and new EU policies halted the movement of undocumented migrants. To strengthen its argument European Commission has prepared a file where it debunks the myths about migration.
Refugee-migration crisis may not dominate anymore the headlines like in 2015 and 2016, but this does not mean that has ended. It is taking place at the bloc’s peripheries like Greece and Italy, where thousands of people are stuck at refugee camps.
Living in refugee camps in Greece
UNHCR states that the influx of asylum seekers to Greece – the main entering point to the EU – has risen during the last year. The numbers cannot be compared with the ones back in 2015, however the islands of Eastern Aegean are overwhelmed. For many years Greece has been unable to manage effectively this crisis. “I will say this clearly: I will raise the matter of specific sanctions for European countries that refuse to take part in a fair distribution of refugees on a European level,” said the new Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
According to UNHCR, there are about 109,000 refugees and migrants in Greece. 70,200 of them live on the mainland (refugee camps, apartments and hotels) and 38,800 on the islands, under dire conditions. OBC Transeuropa collected and analyzed data on the refugees and migrants who reside at refugee camps in Greece, and spoke with the Greek government, international organizations and NGOs, as well as with the European Commission.
Before proceeding to any analysis it’s important first to see what is a refugee camp. According to UNHCR, “a refugee camp is intended as a temporary accommodation for people who have been forced to flee their home because of violence and persecution. They are constructed while crises unfold for people fleeing for their lives. These hastily built shelters provide immediate protection and safety”. The first refugee camps in Greece were built back in 2015, however the country has already had detention centers. Throughout the years, many refugee camps have closed and reopened.