Greece: Solidarity groups warn of new refugee winter crisis

Protests at Vial refugee camp on the Greek-Turkish border coincided with public callouts yesterday for the international community to do something concrete to stop deaths from exposure and cold in the coming winter months.

The camp on the island of Chios is a hotspot for people crossing over to Europe and has become notorious for lacking facilities and support, leading to a number of deaths last year. Conditions have also deteriorated this autumn as hundreds more people arrived, spilling out onto the surrounding island and being forced to sleep outside with minimal protection.

Local authorities have said they can’t cope with the number of people now being held on the island and are pleading with the Syriza government to move people onto the mainland.

Refugee rights campaigners, including the self-organised City Plaza group in Athens are calling on authorities to #OpenTheIslands and for the last five days protests and social media callouts have been aiming to bring the threat of winter deaths to greater public attention.

Temperatures in the region can dip to -20C in mid-winter, and many refugees lack even tents to keep off the worst of the weather. Last year several refugees died in the January-February period from exposure and lack of medical support.

Conditions at Vial, nicknamed “Hell,” have repeatedly been exposed as inhuman.