Boats of migrants sent to Turkey under EU deal
Pro-migrant activists jumped into the water off the Greek island of Lesbos in an attempt to prevent a migrant ship setting sail for Turkey
They dangled from the ship’s anchor chain before being hoisted out of the water by the Greek coastguard. Forty-five Pakistani migrants boarded the boat for the second journey carried out under a controversial EU-Turkey deal to stem mass irregular migration to Europe.
First ferries with refugees depart for Turkey
Meanwhile, conditions at this makeshift migrant camp at Idomeni have been at breaking point. Scuffles broke out as migrants tried to break through a border fence. Doctors say the conditions here pose a health risk to the 4-thousand children here, the majority of whom are under five.
Many refuse to be moved to official camps for fear of being deported to Turkey after an EU deal to stem the flow of migrants came into effect. They are hoping that the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be reopened. The dire situation is even pushing some to consider returning to war torn Syria.
‘‘It is very difficult here, it is impossible to continue living like this,” said one resident of the camp. “If I have to, I will go back to Syria and die there, that’s better than dying here,.”
The unsanitary conditions have forced the UN Refugee Agency to call on migrants to leave the camps. A Norwegian NGO ‘A drop in the ocean’ does what it can to help those at Idomeni, offering basics like baby food and hygiene products.
“Of course, they need food everyday and new clothing,” explained Katrine Sanaker, a coordinator for the NGO. “We also gave out some washing basins so that they can wash their own clothes and also dishes and themselves, because there’s no good opportunity to have a shower here”.
Some 4,000 children remain in Idomeni, the majority of them under five years old. Doctors are warning the conditions pose a major health risk to the camp’s youngest residents.