UK Refuses to Accept Migrants from Greece's Camps
British Home Office rejects request to take illegal migrants from Greek islands
The United Kingdom has refused to accept migrants from camps on Greece's islands, according to reports.
The UK Home Office rejected requests to take in migrants from the Middle East and North Africa who have entered the European Union illegally via Greece.
The international NGO (non-governmental organization) Doctors Without Borders, along with several other open-borders groups, has been petitioning the UK government in recent weeks to accept unaccompanied migrant children from the Greek islands' camps.
The groups argue that migrants in the overcrowded camps are especially at risk from the coronavirus due to the facilities' dense populations and poor sanitary conditions.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has refused the pleas, however.
On March 31, the Home Office responded by asserting the UK will continue to support the existing deal between Turkey and the European Union which was put in place to keep migrants out of the bloc, according to a report by The Guardian.
Doctors Without Borders UK executive director, Vicki Hawkins, told The Guardian that the decision was “shameful.”
Hawkins argued that “the UK government must stop sacrificing basic refugee rights for the sake of its migration agenda.”
Reception centers on the Greek islands are currently estimated to be housing approximately 42,000 migrants — six times more than the camps are designed to sustain.
Most of the migrants in the camps came across Greece’s border with Turkey.
Conditions in the camps make it impossible for migrants to follow the recommended social distancing guidelines.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs has been calling for migrants to be evacuated from the islands before the coronavirus reaches them due to the overcrowding.
There have been no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in the Greek camps as of yet.
Safe Passage, a legal charity, sent the Home Office a list of migrants who have already been accepted to join families in the UK but have been prevented from traveling there due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Although the Home Office has refused to take the children, a spokesman told The Guardian that they are continuing to process asylum requests.
They also noted that the current travel restrictions imposed across Europe make receiving migrants from other countries difficult.
Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, and Luxembourg have agreed to accept 2,000 children from the Greek islands.
Croatia also recently signaled that it would accept unaccompanied migrant children from camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina.