Refugee Who Set Herself on Hearth in Greece Is Charged With Arson

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ATHENS — An Afghan girl is dealing with arson expenses after making an attempt to burn herself to dying at a migrants camp on the Greek island of Lesbos this week, officers mentioned on Thursday.

The costs are the newest in a sequence of punishments directed at refugees and asylum seekers on the island, rights teams say, and mirror the Greek authorities’s onerous line on migrants. The episode can also be a stark instance of the impression that the dire situations at Greek reception facilities have on refugees’ psychological well being.

The girl, 27 and eight months pregnant, lives at a short lived camp along with her husband and three kids. She set her tent alight on Sunday after being advised that her household’s deliberate relocation to Germany was being postponed, a Greek migration ministry official mentioned, noting that her journey had been delayed due to the superior state of her being pregnant.

The girl, whose identify was not launched by the authorities, was hospitalized with non-life-threatening burns after neighbors dragged her from the burning tent, a Lesbos hearth service official mentioned, including that nobody else was injured.

Hundreds of individuals are residing in determined situations at Greece’s camps for refugees and migrants dotted alongside its islands, a state of affairs that human rights teams persistently denounce as inhumane. Teams have lengthy warned of a rising psychological well being disaster there because the 1000’s who fled conflict and financial hardship stay in limbo.

Though the variety of migrants crossing the Aegean by boat from Turkey to the Greek islands has dropped sharply this yr — by greater than 90 p.c in January, based on the authorities — the camps stay crowded. Dozens of amenities on the mainland have been closed as a part of a authorities coverage to discourage additional arrivals.

And though the processing of asylum claims has been accelerated since final yr, a major backlog stays.

Within the case of the girl on Lesbos, her asylum utility had been accepted and refugee standing granted, and her determined act appeared to have been prompted by the delay in her relocation to Germany. The makeshift camp, like different amenities nationwide, stays locked down due to the pandemic.

The girl arrived in Greece in 2019 and had been residing in a camp on the island for greater than a yr, based on the migration ministry. She was attributable to give a press release to a court docket official and the prosecutor from her hospital mattress on Thursday, officers mentioned.

A spokesman for the Greek police mentioned that though her therapy might seem harsh, her actions couldn’t go unpunished, as a result of cases of arson are frequent and put different camp residents in danger.

“The legislation needs to be enforced,” mentioned the spokesman, Theodoros Chronopoulos. “A message needs to be despatched. This might have created a bigger hearth.”

The incident occurred inside a short lived camp that was arrange after a sequence of fires destroyed the sprawling Moria camp in September. Six Afghan migrants have been charged with arson in reference to that fireside and are awaiting trial.

Eva Cossé, a Western Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch, mentioned it was onerous to overstate the toll that such situations tackle folks within the camps.

“The psychological impression of years of battle, exacerbated by harsh situations on the Greek islands and the uncertainty of inhumane insurance policies, might not be as seen as bodily wounds,” she mentioned. “However as this case exhibits, it’s no much less life-threatening.”

“The impulse to prosecute her moderately than assist her,” Ms. Cossé added, “shouldn’t be solely emblematic of what’s incorrect with Europe’s method to migration, however it additionally exhibits Greece’s lack of compassion and humanity.”

In latest months, rights teams have denounced the Greek authorities’ more and more robust actions concerning migrants. In November, an Afghan man was charged with endangering the lifetime of his son after the 6-year-old drowned off the coast of one other Aegean island when their boat touring from Turkey capsized. The person has since been granted asylum however remains to be awaiting trial, based on his lawyer.

Final week, Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s migration minister, mentioned the authorities have been urgent ahead with efforts to speed up asylum functions and the return of migrants to Turkey in a bid to ease overcrowding in camps and discourage additional arrivals.

He famous that the variety of asylum seekers at amenities nationwide had dropped to only over 60,000 from almost 100,000 early final yr, whereas 57 amenities on the mainland have been closed totally.

“We’re persevering with with the implementation of a tricky however truthful migration coverage in order that our nation is not a gateway to Europe for unlawful smuggling rackets,” he mentioned.

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