New migrant centers ‘substandard,’ UNHCR says

28 May 2016
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Despite the evacuation of refugees from the sprawling makeshift border camp of Idomeni in northern Greece on Thursday, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed serious concern Friday over the “sub-standard” conditions at the new camps they have been relocated to.

The new camps, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said, “fall well below minimum standards,” and she appealed to Greek authorities to address the matter as soon as possible.

“UNHCR is seriously concerned about the substandard conditions at several camps in northern Greece, where refugees and migrants were evacuated this week from the makeshift site at Idomeni, and urges Greek authorities, with the financial support provided by the European Union, to find better alternatives quickly,” Fleming said during a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

She did, however, agree with Greece’s decision to evacuate Idomeni, where conditions “were abysmal,” adding that it was done “without the use of force.”

The government’s spokesperson for the refugee issue, Giorgos Kyritsis, admitted on Friday that conditions at the new camp were not ideal but insisted that “they will soon be improved.”

Meanwhile, in another indication of the poor living conditions at migrant camps and centers, some 80 migrants, including children, staying at makeshift accommodation at Piraeus port were rushed to hospital yesterday with acute symptoms of food poisoning.

Kyritisis said the poisoning was caused by a batch of leftover food that was sent from the refugee camp at Elliniko that had not been properly stored and went bad because of the high temperatures. Most were discharged from hospital, but six adults and 13 children stayed in for treatment.

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