When one begins to imagine the catastrophic consequences of a virus without a cure in Moria, it truly exemplifies how bad the situation already is in the camp, even without Covid-19. This is how Alex, whom we met in Moria, sees the situation. While the whole world seems to focus solely on the corona-crisis and new regulations to prevent the pandemic from further spreading, he explained that the lives of migrants in Lesvos are worse than ever before.
Our team is currently being prevented from continuing our monitoring mission at sea by Covid-19 regulations, but crew members of Mare Liberum are still present on Lesvos. States have an obligation to take measures to contain the pandemic, but these preventive measures need to be lawful, necessary and proportionate. Human rights must always be at the heart of all efforts to halt the spreading of the virus.
While we can’t set sail, we set ourselves the task of monitoring and reporting on the increasingly dangerous situation for migrants in Lesvos. We still hear of pushbacks and human rights violations at sea. Our crew spoke to migrants who arrived in the North Shore of Lesvos, and these new arrivals have been waiting outside without shelter and with almost no provisions for days. We spoke to people who are stuck in Moria camp trying to survive without the basic resources needed to defend themselves against the virus: shelter, water, and soap.
Nadja from Mare Liberum shares her impressions on the situation in the hotspot camp: „Migrants in the camp tell us that the medical and hygienic situation is poor: water is always limited; masks, gloves or hygiene articles are hardly available; people have to stand closely together while waiting in line for food or going to the toilet. Protection against Corona is hardly possible. People who report to the infirmary with fever and signs of a cold are sent back to their tents. Tests to detect Corona infections are not available in Moria. How is it possible that everywhere in Europe people are told to stay inside and not to gather in large groups, and in Moria, nothing is being done to protect people here that are clustered by the thousands? We urge Europe to act!“
Anna, another crew member describes the situation they experienced in the North Shore of Lesvos, where most migrant boats arrive: „Despite the crisis, refugees continue to arrive to Lesvos by boat from Turkey. Their dire situation in Turkey didn’t change a bit, but rather it’s getting more difficult, so they still need to flee. Due to the danger of infection, they are crammed together on the beach or in cordoned-off harbour sections and locked up. These "protective measures" are monitored by the authorities. They don’t have the possibility to apply for asylum. In Petra, Northern Lesvos, 56 people had to wait for 12 days already, being only very poorly supplied. This is no solution to prevent the spreading of the Corona virus. Human rights are universal - and apply to everyone even in times of crisis! No matter your immigration or migration status."
In this time of crisis, our team in Lesvos continues to collect evidence and testimonies from migrants as well as our local contacts. In the coming weeks, we’ll share first-hand information and our perspectives on the evolution of how well these “protective measures” actually protect the most vulnerable groups against falling ill.