BELGRADE – Thousands of migrants are trapped in scarce living conditions in freezing temperatures on the Greek islands and the Balkans due to “cynical” policies of the European authorities, the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders, or MSF) said in a statement Monday.
According to the statement, more than 7,500 people are currently stuck in overcrowded camps in Serbia, with nearly 2,000 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria sleeping in abandoned buildings in the center of Belgrade, while the temperatures fall to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The cynical neglect of European States’ policies, compounded by icy temperatures and a lack of preparation for winter have worsened an already unbearable situation for thousands of men, women and children seeking protection in Europe,” the statement read, adding that the situation is particularly worrying for those “stuck on the Greek islands living in tents in overcrowded camps and for those stranded in abandoned buildings in Belgrade.”
At the same time, thousands of people on the Greek islands of Samos and Lesvos are living in “flimsy tents in sub-zero temperatures,” the report noted.
It therefore reiterated the call on the Greek and the Serbian authorities to enact immediate emergency measures to ensure dignified living conditions for migrants. Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their crisis-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty. The majority of them cross the Mediterranean Sea and arrive in the European Union using southern EU nations as transit points.