Palestinian Refugees Facing Ambivalent Fate as Asylum-Seekers Moved from Greek Island to New Facility

Palestinian Refugees Facing Ambivalent Fate as Asylum-Seekers Moved from Greek Island to New Facility

Asylum seekers previously living in the Moria camp on Lesbos are sleeping rough in front of a Greek supermarket in improvised shelters. (Photo: Anna Pantelia/Al Jazeera)

Human rights activists have sounded the alarm over the mysterious fate Palestinian refugees and asylum seekers are facing as reports have emerged about the transfer of 1,150 refugees and migrants from the streets on Greece’s island of Lesvos to a new temporary facility, Anadolu Agency reported.

The new facility will be in the Kara Tepe camp, near the island’s port, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said Thursday.

A fire at Moria camp last week left more than 12,000 people without shelter, sanitation, food and water, to sleep in fields and nearby cemeteries.

According to authorities, the fire was started by a small group of asylum seekers that were angered by isolation measures to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak after dozens tested positive.

The new temporary facility can take up to 5,000 people, authorities said, while 17 mobile units from the National Organization for Public Health are on site to test all who enter the camp.

The transfer was coordinated by Greek police and started in the early morning of Thursday, while some of the migrants were reluctant to be transferred to the new facility in fear of poor living conditions.

There are over 33,000 asylum-seekers and migrants packed into camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos which were originally built to handle fewer than 6,100 people.

Lesbos lies just off the Turkish coast, and hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, including Palestinians, have used the island as a staging area in recent years in their attempt to get to mainland Europe.

Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants seeking to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

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