The founder of Guernsey charity Bridge2, which works in disaster zones around the world, has been in the refugee camp Vathy, known as the Reception and Immigration Centre, in Samos, Greece, since the middle of January and has appealed for help following the fires.
Ms Griffith said there had been three fires in the space of 24 hours, destroying some of the refugees’ tents and leaving around 100 people without living spaces.
‘Please help with donations, we are going to need them.’
This comes at a time when she was already fearful that although there were no Covid-19 cases on the island, there was not enough being done to help within the camps.
‘There is no formal emergency plan I am aware of, but I know that the camp management are in talks with Medecins Sans Frontieres [an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation], who have brought in 40 personnel, who had to undertake 14 days’ quarantine,’ she said.
‘Medequali, the French NGO, are operating here on a reduced timetable of half days and only seeing emergencies while Covid is a significant threat – again PPE [personal protection equipment] is limited for them too.
‘There are two containers that have been earmarked as isolation containers but it does not take a genius to know that in the event of a spread here that would not suffice.
‘The local NGOS have been trying to supply the local hospital with PPE – but it is very hard to come by and so far only hand sanitiser has been provided as far as I know [and] there is no routine testing in the camp at all and very little generally as any tests have to go to Athens and it takes several days for results.
‘The intensive care unit in the hospital is woefully inadequate and always has been, but I know they have done some Covid-19 training.’
Residents are allowed out only to go to the doctor or the supermarket, one member of the family at a time, and there is a curfew.
There is a fine of 150 euros for disobeying this and so far two refugees have been subjected to the fine.
In addition, there are upwards of 300 unaccompanied minors on the island and only about 60 of them live in containers.
The rest are, Ms Griffith said in the way they were referred to at the camp, ‘loose in the jungle’ and subject to all sorts of danger, including drugs, sex trafficking and physical and mental abuse.
‘The camp gives zero attention to social distancing and hygiene matters,’ she said.
‘The situation here on Samos is diabolical – food, hygiene, mental welfare, information and care of the unaccompanied minors is virtually non-existent and this is a flagrant abuse of human rights on so many levels.
‘Living conditions in the camp since lockdown are more miserable than before, if that is possible.
‘The camps should have been evacuated months ago – it seems the world has forgotten the refugees in these European camps and now with Covid-19 it’s even worse and until the EU take some responsibility in checking where the substantial funding has gone that could have already produced answers, nothing will change.
‘The refugees I have spoken to say the conditions are unbearable and many people self-harm and try to kill themselves and this can only be made worse by lockdown.’
Ms Griffith added that last week the government had said it would house over-65s from the camp in local hotels and send some to Athens over the coming weeks, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirming nine of the over-65s from the camp had been housed in Samos hotels.
A total of 7,216 refugees and immigrants are living in Samos. In the Reception and Immigration Centre, which has a capacity of 648 people, 6,869 refugees currently reside.
The cause of the fires is currently under investigation.