12 March 2020 MSF calls for refugee camps’ evacuation to contain coronavirus

The medical humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) called for the evacuation of migrants and refugee camps on Greek islands. The confirmation of the first coronavirus cases in Lesbos, although outside the camps, increases the risk of a possible propagation due to the the lack of proper sanitary conditions among refugees. Limited tap water access and soap scarcity add further problems to the already overcrowded camps where refugees and migrants live in close proximity. MSF’s Medical Coordinator in Greece Dr. Hilde Vochte expressed that “we have not seen a credible emergency plan”. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 41,000 refugee and asylum seekers on Greek islands and at least  20,000 of them should be moved to mainland Greece. The Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum announced on March 17 that all camps will be close during at least two weeks in order to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, and thus no visitors or members of international agencies will be allowed to visit them.