Greece extends migrant camps lockdown despite criticism

Athens: Greece on Saturday announced another extension of a coronavirus lockdown on its teeming migrant camps, despite criticism it was misusing the pandemic to limit the movement of migrants.

The lockdown on camps began on March 21 and is now extended till July 19, the migration ministry said.

Migrants can leave the camps from 07:00 am to 21:00 pm only in groups of less than 10 and no more than 150 people per hour, it said.

Marco Sandrone, coordinator of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, had 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, with 192 coronavirus deaths, has so far not been as badly hit as many other European countries -- and there have been no deaths in the migrant camps.

But the presence of more than 32,000 asylum seekers on the five Aegean islands -- in camps with a capacity of 5,400 -- has caused major friction with local communities. - AFP