Greece extends lockdown on migrant camps until July 19

Refugees and migrants demonstrate outside the Greek parliament against a government decision that refugees staying in apartments funded by a European Union and UNHCR programme should leave their accommodation, in Athens, Greece, June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Greece on Saturday announced a further extension of its COVID-19 lockdown on migrant camps despite criticism it was using the pandemic to limit the movement of migrants.

The movement restrictions on the migrant camps was first imposed on 21 March but has been continually extended, and will not last until 19 July, according to the migration ministry.

Migrants can leave their camps from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, but only in groups of not less than 10 and not more than 150 people per hour, it said.

The restrictions have prompted condemnation from some quarters, including the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, whose coordinator blasted these extensions.

“The reason for the lockdown (in the camps) cannot be associated with public health,” he told AFP earlier, pointing out that there were no cases in the camps.

Greece hosts more than 32,000 asylum seekers on the five Aegean islands — in camps with a capacity of 5,400.