Athens – The United Nations Refugee Agency on Friday said Greece must speed up winter preparations at refugee camps on islands in the Aegean Sea where there has been a sharp rise in arrivals.
UNHCR data showed that almost 5,000 refugees, mostly Syrian or Iraqi families, crossed from Turkey in September, a quarter of all arrivals this year.
While that is a fraction of the almost 1 million who arrived in 2015, due to EU deal with Turkey to block that route.
According to Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR representative in Greece, four of the five island camps are hosting two or three times as many people as they were designed for.
“UNHCR urges action on the islands to ease overcrowding, improve shelter, and stock and distribute appropriate and sufficient aid items,” Leclerc said.
UNHCR said that in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos, one of the main entry points, over 1,500 people are in makeshift shelters or tents without insulation, flooring or heating.
“They include pregnant women, people with disabilities, and very young children,’’ it noted.