Spike in number of refugees fleeing to Greek islands
A dramatic increase in the numbers of refugees arriving to the Greek islands is creating high levels of overcrowding, leading to squalid living conditions.
Arrivals to the islands are now at their highest rate since March 2016.
Trapped in refugee camps, up to 16 people are forced to sleep in five-person tents while babies have to sleep on the floor.
This level of overcrowding puts children at immense risk. There have been reports of violent outbreaks in some camps, including abuse against children.
Staying in such harsh conditions causes long-term psychological damage for children, such as feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, depression and self-harming.
Why is this happening?
At the moment arrivals are at their highest rate since March 2016 – up to 200 people a day. Fleeing dangerous war zones such as Syria and Iraq, around 40% of the arrivals are children.
The processes in place to help people move on from the refugee camps can be incredibly slow. This means that many are stuck there for long periods of time, causing overcrowding.
Almost 10,000 people are now living in areas that have a capacity of just over half this amount. Many children who live there have been separated from their families or are unaccompanied, putting them at even greater risk.
We need continued funding to reach children
The Greek islands have an increasing need for humanitarian aid. At the start of August the Greek Government took responsibility for funding and management of services provided to asylum seekers on these islands.
While we support this, it’s vital that there’s continued support for the people who are living in refugee camps while this transition takes place.
We’ve seen a deterioration in the quality of services such as food and healthcare that are available. Children and their families are becoming worried about the future, wondering if they will have the things they need to survive in the coming weeks and months.
That’s why we’re calling on donors and the Greek government to make more funding available to help vulnerable refugee children currently residing on the Greek mainland and islands.