Some 1,000 vulnerable refugees from the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands are being moved to hotels temporarily due to the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus, the European Union’s Interior Commissioner said on Tuesday.
The migrants are to be moved from the camps on Lesbos and other islands to empty hotels, Ylva Johansson wrote on Twitter.
Johansson thanked the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organisation for Migration, the Greek government and the EU Commission for their efforts to make this possible.
She also praised the generosity of the Greek people.
“EU values in practice, even in such trying times,” Johansson wrote in her tweet.
Some people were transferred to the vacant hotels on the islands and the mainland on Tuesday and the others will follow on Wednesday, a European spokesman said.
Some 10,000 migrants have already been brought from the islands to mainland Greece during the first three months of the year, according to the Greek Ministry for Migration.
Under the agreement between the EU and Turkey, migrants can only be sent back to Turkey from the islands.
Amid the epidemic, politicians and NGOs have repeatedly called for the camps to be cleared completely, given the overcrowding and poor hygiene conditions.
Although there is officially only space in the camps on Lesbos, Samos, Kos, Leros and Chios for 7,000 migrants, some 40,000 migrants are presently living there. (dpa/NAN)