Police are failing to protect people during frequent incidents of violence in closed centers on the Greek islands known as “hotspots,” Human Rights Watch said today. The centers were established for the reception, identification, and processing of asylum seekers and migrants. None of the three centers Human Rights Watch visited on Samos, Lesbos, and Chios in mid-May 2016, separate single women from unrelated adult men, and all three are unsanitary and severely overcrowded.
“In Europe’s version of refugee camps, women and children who fled war face daily violence and live in fear,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Lack of police protection, overcrowding, and unsanitary conditions create an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity in Greece’s razor wire-fenced island camps.”
On visits from May 9 to May 15, Human Rights Watch found all three facilities to be severely overcrowded, with significant shortages of basic shelter and filthy, unhygienic conditions. Long lines for poor quality food, mismanagement, and lack of information contribute to the chaotic and volatile atmosphere in the three hotspots, Human Rights Watch said.
On May 13, a fight involving about 200 men raged for several hours in the Vathi hotspot on Samos, a 250-bed facility that held 945 people that day. Human Rights Watch visited the center on May 14, and saw smears of blood on floors, blood-stained clothing, jagged holes in the shelters where rocks had been thrown, and broken glass and other detritus from the fight, and examined bruises and lacerations on men’s and women’s heads and bodies. Many residents said the police providing security for the site withdrew when the fighting broke out. According to aid workers with Boat Rescue, a Dutch nongovernmental organization that provides health care at the facility, 14 people were hospitalized, including some with broken arms and legs.
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