‘Dystopian nightmare’: New camp for asylum seekers in Greece condemned

‘Dystopian nightmare’: New camp for asylum seekers in Greece condemned
Centre is one of a number being set up across Aegean islands

Campaigners have slammed the “prison-like” conditions of a new asylum seeker centre in Greece.

Under plans funded by the European Union, Greek officials are opening a new Multi-Purpose Reception & Identification Centre (MPRIC) on Samos island on Saturday.

The centre in Zervou, a remote part of Samos, is one of several being set up across the Aegean islands to process refugees and asylum seekers fleeing conflict zones.

Some 500 people who remain in Vathy camp in Samos will be transferred to the new centre from 2O September September onwards.

The EU and Greece said the new centre will be an improvement on the squalid camps in which many refugees are currently living.

But campaigners said the new centre resembles a prison.

Patrick Wieland, a field coordinator for MSF (Doctors without borders) in Samos, said the centre was a disgrace.

He said: “How audacious that while we see what’s happening in countries like Afghanistan, the EU and Greece are busy inaugurating a new prison for asylum seekers on the island of Samos? Maybe the barbed wire is shiny and new in their centre but this cannot be sold as an improvement.”

Mr Wieland added: “This is the perfect illustration of how criminal the EU policy on migration is – holding and detaining people who are escaping violence and punishing them for wanting to be safe. It is a disgrace.”

An MSF psychologist in Samos, who didn’t want to give their name, said: “For months now, our patients in the MSF clinic in Samos come to their appointments with the fear of being locked-up in the new centre, feeling completely abandoned and helpless. For those who have survived torture, the new highly-controlled centre means not only the loss of freedom but re-living past traumatic experiences.”

The person added: “The majority of our mental health patients on Samos present symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Between April and August 2021, a shocking 64% of new patients that reached our mental health clinic presented thoughts of suicide and 14% were at an actual risk of suicide.

“As psychologists working with the people who are at the frontline of Europe’s tightening migration policies, we witness on a daily basis the deterioration of their mental and physical well-being. The opening of the new prison camp is changing the collective identity of the refugees, their self-esteem and image: their dignity. Europe is breaking them.”