Greek island refugees face ‘catastrophe,’ EU lawmaker warns

Athens – A German member of the European Parliament has said that refugees in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos face a “humanitarian catastrophe” as winter approaches.

“The population of 6,500 in camp Moria is at least three times its capacity, and 1,500 of them live in tents without heating,” EU lawmaker Barbara Lochbihler told dpa on Tuesday after visiting the site.

200 people arriving from Turkey each day

The number of refugees on the Greek Aegean islands has crept upwards after a decline, with an average of around 200 people arriving across the sea from Turkey each day.

According to official data, 15,200 refugees are stranded at camps on  Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos – nearly double the camps’ official capacity of 8,000.

In line with an agreement between Turkey and the European Union (EU), all refugees who arrived after April 2016 are to be returned to Turkey. Those who made the trip earlier and have been approved for asylum are to be distributed across the EU.

Winter relief plan for refugees

Both processes have been slow going, which has led to overcrowding.

The comments from Lochbihler, a member of Germany’s Greens, came one day ahead of the European Parliament debate on a winter relief plan for refugees.