Lesvos mayor files suit over conditions at Moria migrant camp

Via Ekathimerini – The mayor of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos has filed suit against all responsible parties over the conditions at the Moria refugee and migrant processing center, claiming that the law is being broken at the government-run facility, which is supervised by the military.

His action comes two days after foreign media published videos shot covertly inside the camp and showing the squalor and cramped conditions to which thousands of refugees and migrants are being subjected.

The mayor stressed that the facility, a former military base, should not be accommodating more than 1,800 people at a time if decent living standards are to be ensured.

“Unfortunately, though, for the past two years and this year especially there is an extremely large number of third-country citizens and vulnerable groups (men, women – among which pregnant women – and children) indiscriminately trapped and cramped together, coming to more than 6,000 individuals,” Galinos said in his lawsuit.

He also stressed poor safety and sanitation standards, saying that an inadequate water and sewerage network is putting the lives of the camp’s residents and workers at risk. People living at the camp “every day experience serious psychological problems and have been led to suicide attempts and self-harm, while others are compelled to serious acts of lawlessness in order to survive,” Galinos said.

His suit came just hours after about a dozen people were injured in a brawl that went on for hours between rival groups at the camp and resulted in extensive destruction.

The mayor further stressed the impact of conditions at Moria on the lives of the island’s residents, saying that authorities are failing in their duty to control and monitor such a large number of refugees and migrants.

Galinos added that overcrowding at the camp has forced hundreds of migrants to move into the main town of Mytilene in search of some kind of shelter, “taking over public spaces, the city’s parks, sidewalks and courtyards of public and municipal buildings.”

In the suit, Galinos asks that “all responsible parties” are taken to task over the situation, as “their actions and omissions are malicious and deliberate, and put at risk the desperate and poor people trapped in [Moria’s] illegal facilities.”

“The disruption of social cohesion and the risk of criminal offenses in defense of life and property by a part of the island’s native population is evident and very likely,” Galinos warned.

Since the onset of the refugee crisis at the start of 2015, the residents of Lesvos and its mayor have been distinguished for the support they have given to tens of thousands of migrants that have landed on the island’s shores.

This article was originally published by Ekathimerini