Refugee camp workers in Lesvos, Greece go on strike

The right-wing government in Greece has slowed and suspended the asylum application process, increasing the number of inhabitants in the camps

March 13, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
In September 2019, a fire at the Moria Refugee Camp killed 2. Photo: AP

Employees at the Moria refugee camp at Lesvos, Greece went on strike to oppose the dire conditions at the camp and to demand that the government intervene to ensure conditions are improved for all.

The Moria camp in Lesvos is one of the central transitory camps where most refugees fleeing war and economic hardship in Africa and West Asia are kept.

According to reports there are around 25,000 asylum seekers currently living at the camp. The approved capacity of the camp is 3,000. In September a fire broke out in the camp, killing at least two and leaving over a dozen injured. The fire was further evidence to the unsafe conditions at the camp and provoked protests among the camp’s population, which were heavily repressed. However, the government’s proposal to expand the capacity of the camp has been met with opposition from the workers at the camp and the local population who fear that the camp will then become a permanent detention center.

Irini Zanni, one of the employees at the camp, said to Anadolu Agency,  that most of the people living in the camp are living in terrible conditions which have to be changed. She explained that strikes began yesterday on March 12, with the stated objective of guaranteeing better working conditions and humanitarian treatment of the refugees and asylum seekers. The workers also demonstrated in front of the Greek parliament.

A large number of Syrian refugees arrived in Greece in the last few weeks following Turkey’s decision to open its borders to let refugees leave and continue on to Europe. There are more than 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Many Syrian refugees have continued to take the route to Europe via Greece, despite the fact that the new right-wing government in Greece has suspended the application process for the asylum seekers and has putnew refugees in detention. In the first week of this month one such refugee was killed by the Greek border police.

The new government led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis of New Democracy which came into power in July last year has also planned to create a “floating fence” to deter refugees from coming to the country. most of the refugees use Greece as a transit to migrate further into Europe.