from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – GREECE authorities are reportedly detaining about 2 000 migrants and asylum seekers in unacceptable conditions.
New arrivals, including children, persons with disabilities, older people and pregnant women, are held in quarantine due to (COVID-19) but human rights groups fear the absence of basic health precautions are likely to help the virus spread.
Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Greece was detaining migrants because of their immigration status and not providing them with appropriate health protections as expressed in the international health regulations or current World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance.
“Forcing people, some of whom are at high risk of severe disease or death, to live in dirty and cramped unsanitary conditions, cramped together in close quarters, is a recipe for spreading the virus, not to mention is degrading and inhumane,” Wille said
International human rights bodies and health experts have also been calling globally for authorities to reduce the number of people in detention to limit the spread of the virus.
“Inexplicably, Greece seems to be doing the opposite and putting people at grave risk,” Wille said
Last Thursday, the Greek parliament ratified a March 1, 2020 government decree suspending access to asylum for 30 days for people who irregularly entered the country.
The March 1 decision, taken before any measures to address the COVID-19 outbreak in Greece, calls for new arrivals to be immediately deported where possible, to their countries of origin or transit countries.
In Africa, most asylum seekers and migrants use Libya to access Europe.
– CAJ News