JOINT STATEMENT: How many refugees must die before safety is guaranteed in Greece

Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

On 28 November 2016 due to the accident in Moria’s camp that took the  lives of two refugees, SolidarityNow and 22 other organizations made a joint statement about the living conditions and safety rules in the refugee camps around the country.

The recent accident at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos that took the lives of two refugees was not just an unfortunate coincidence. It is linked to the living conditions that people are exposed to in a government-run facility which ought to adhere to specific safety standards. How can these standards be met though when the Ministry of Migration Policy has not shown any interest in drafting operational rules, which include security and fire safety policies, for any of the camps on the islands or mainland Greece? Moreover, these facilities, both open and closed, are managed by people appointed by the ministry through ad hoc procedures, without an open call, without any required qualifications or specific responsibilities, and of course without any regulations that managers can adhere to.

The situation in Greece’s camps, where safety is a crucial living condition, is beyond the limits of human endurance. Refugee safety should be a separate aspect of migration policy, as it is also important for wider Greek society. In this specific terrible incident, as well as in similar incidents that preceded it including the firebombing of refugee tents in Chios, the managers and the government bear responsibility. Those politically and administratively liable should assume their responsibility and address, even if retrospectively, these inadequacies. The investigation of criminal liability, which we expect to take place, will certainly bring a new dimension to this issue.