Greece: Inhuman Conditions at the Hotspot in Chios


(NEV) The final declaration of the Conference on Asylum organized by German Diaconia and the Church Commission for Migrants in Europe asked for an end to the hotspot approach and claim the creation of a common European asylum system and the establishment of safe passages. Fiona Kendall and Alberto Mallardo from the MH Mediterranean Hope by the FCEI, also participated.

“We reiterate our claim to decriminalize humanitarian reception for people in search of security, dignity or protection, regardless of their status, and to support the right of those who legitimately protest for their unacceptable living conditions. We insist on the need to create safe routes to enter Europe such as the Humanitarian Corridors, a pilot project that has already been launched by the Protestant church in Andorra, Belgium, France and Italy.”

On October 20 the conference ended with a Joint declaration the European Conference about Asylum “Solidarity first – Reclaiming the values and principles of Europe” organised by the German Diaconia (Diakonie Deutschland) and the Commission of Churches for Migrants in Europe (CCME).

The 150 participants, among them Fiona Kendall and Alberto Mallardo of Mediterranean Hope (MH), the refugee and migrant programme promoted by FCEI, stayed in Chios and Athens. In both locations, in addition to issue reports and working groups, visits to hotspots, refugee camps and projects and services for migrants were planned.

In the final declaration the participants claimed: the end of the hotspot system, the immediate transfer of asylum seekers from the islands to the continent, an immediate improvement of the reception conditions, the end of the externalization of the EU asylum policy, the creation of a common European asylum system based on high reception standards and establishment of safe corridors.

“In Chios, we were shocked by seeing the unworthy and humiliating conditions of the refugees who are stuck there – continues the statement – We are also very concerned about the impact on the local population, who feels abandoned, and irritated by the apparent lack of responsibilities in reception and asylum procedures between different organisations, such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex, Greek authorities.”

Alberto Mallardo of MH after the visit to the hotspot of Vial on the Island of Chios said that the centre “hosts 2180 people, forced to live in a camp that could host maximum 1200. Among them, 400 women (110 pregnant) and about 600 minors. Most of these people come from countries in conflict such as Syria (23%), Afghanistan (10%), Iraq (26%) and Palestine. The hotspot, inaugurated in 2015, under the indication of the EU, is located within a complex for the storage and recycling of waste, more than 10 km from the village. Refugees share their living places with garbage trucks coming and going, among the miasmas that come from garbage laden containers. Over 800 people are confined in containers, while 900 survive in simple camping tents, without hot water, heating, with insufficient electricity and constantly flooded by sewage drains.”

The final declaration of the Conference also refers to the situation in the hotspots and underlines how these conditions of life “undermine fundamental rights and human dignity. This is the reason for the many suicide attempts, the deterioration of the health of prisoners who do not have access to Adequate living and health conditions, as well as education”.

Fiona Kendall, after visiting the camp, said that “the critical conditions of the hotspot in Vial make impossible to live for the people detained inside it. Migrants trapped on the island for months or even years, following the shameful agreement between the EU and Turkey are an example of why EU migration policies should be urgently reformed.”