Some 38,000 people have found their way from Turkey to Greece, with many now camped out in tents surrounded by rubbish in a space fit to only house 6,000. Many are children, some with close relatives currently residing in the UK, who now face a “hopeless future” as the reality of Turkey’s insistence on disobeying its pledge with the EU four years ago to help control migration to the bloc bites. But perhaps most starkly is the genuine concern that this once understanding set of islands could soon be overrun with cases of coronavirus, which has so far claimed more than 14,000 people’s lives across the globe, with hundreds of thousands also contracting the infection.
Imogen Sudbery, the International Rescue Committee’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, told Express.co.uk, that if more isn’t done to stem this trend of people coming to the Greek islands without others being moved on, a “tinderbox is ready to explode” on the isles, which could cause devastation for years.
At present, Ms Sudbery said there had been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the camps of refugees in Greece.
But she did warn that just one case coming into the camp could spread to such dangerous levels that it could be hard to control.
She said: “You can imagine that when we’re all familiar with the social distancing measures that we are all supposed to be taking and the sanitary measure in terms of simple things like hand-washing, that is entirely impossible to put in place inside these centres on the Greek islands.
According to the IRC, Turkey opened its borders earlier in March which saw waves of people arrive in Greece to hopefully move on and seek asylum in the bloc.
But the organisation reports a worrying trend where, as Ms Sudbery described, citizens who were once “very welcoming” have “lost their patience because their islands have changed into really different places leading to huge overcrowding and an untenable situation”.
The Greek government, which has received millions in funding from Brussels, has also decided to make a stance - no longer processing applications for refugees who have made the “dangerous trip often from war-torn countries in the hope of a better future”.
It has left many in limbo - something that could explain the IRC reporting nearly 50 percent of those who made the deadly journey to Greece contemplating suicide.