Inside Moria, Greece's 1st 'hotspot' refugee camp
Refugees on the island of Lesbos are sent to registration centers such as Moria, where long lines, squalid conditions and limited supplies have created what some call the world's worst refugee camp, Diego Cupolo reports.
Separating refugees and 'economic migrants'
When refugees arrive in Lesbos, they are separated by nationality. Syrians go to Kara Tepe camp, where most people stay in shelters, while other nationalities go to Moria, a detention center converted into Greece's first "hotspot" registration area for so-called "economic migrants." Here, many sleep in tents or under the cover of olive trees as they await passage to Athens.
Overcrowding often leads to conflicts, such as in the food line above. A UN report stated the camp's capacity is 410 people, but Fred Morlet, director of Volunteer's Coordination Lesvos, said the camp normally hosts 2,000-4,000 people. "It's been lacking supplies since the beginning, and - because nothing changed - it has become the worst refugee camp in the world."
Ramona Brongers, founder of the Live for Lives Foundation, said she brought her Holland-based organization to Moria in response to an emergency plea she read online. "We make 1,500 meals a day, and it's never enough to feed everyone," she said. "We are helping as much as we can, but the problems are huge and larger organizations won't take responsibility."
'Sleeping in trash'
Brongers also said her group of 36 volunteers was overwhelmed by trash collection and sanitation duties. "Just look around, people are sleeping in trash," she said. "It's impossible to keep this place clean, and we feel we're always on the edge of a major hygiene epidemic." A scabies outbreak was reported at Kara Tepe camp in recent weeks.
Lack of motivation
When asked why harsh conditions persist in the camp, Morlet said, "I think it has to do with the police managing the place. They have an obvious lack of motivation, and sometimes they don't come to work, which means people don't get registered while more and more people arrive … it becomes a humanitarian disaster with just two hours' delay."
'I walked from Pakistan to Turkey with no shoes'
"I walked from Pakistan to Turkey with no shoes," said Fiaz Uddah (middle in pink), a Pakistani waiting for his number to be called. "We sleep just like this, on this cardboard box. No blankets," said Israr Ahmed, his friend (far right). "We do this because we don't want to see our children live like we do."
Lack of cooperation
Konstantina Strikou, emergency program coordinator for ActionAid, said she wanted to expand the camp's women's-only shelter before winter, but police officials intervened. "We had the container sitting at the camp gates, ready to be used, but the police didn't let us bring it inside," she said. "I still don't understand why. Now the breastfeeding area is always full."
'Who decides if I am a refugee or not?'
Arshid Rahimi, a 20-year-old Afghan from Ghazni, said his mother forced him to leave after his father and sister were killed during a Taliban attack on a school near his house. "My life was threatened by the Taliban, but here people say I came for economic reasons," he said. "Who decides if I am a refugee or not?"
'It looks like Guantanamo'
Some families are allowed to stay in the limited shelters at Moria, but Morlet compared the dentation center housing to a prison, "With the fences and barbed wire, it looks like Guantanamo." Regardless of the conditions, he predicts refugee numbers will remain the same. "People say winter will stop them, but the seas are calmer in the winter."
'We are alone with god'
"When I was on the boat to come here, in the middle of the sea, I realized we are alone with god," said Pejman Usefi (not pictured above), an Afghan who lived in Iran. "Just like in the boat, if god decides to save you, then you will be saved. That's how I see my situation in this camp."