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

ATHENS — An Afghan girl is going through arson costs after making an attempt to burn herself to loss of life at a migrants camp on the Greek island of Lesbos this week, officers stated on Thursday.

The fees 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 arduous line on migrants. The episode can be a stark instance of the impression that the dire circumstances at Greek reception facilities have on refugees’ psychological well being.

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

The lady, whose identify was not launched by the authorities, sat inside her burning tent in an try and kill herself and was hospitalized with non-life-threatening burns after neighbors dragged her from the blaze, a Lesbos hearth service official stated. Nobody else was injured.

1000’s of persons are residing in determined circumstances at Greece’s camps for refugees and migrants dotted alongside its islands, a state of affairs that human rights teams constantly denounce as inhumane. Teams have lengthy warned of a rising psychological well being disaster there because the hundreds 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 % 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 lady on Lesbos, her asylum software had been permitted 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 lady 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 courtroom official and the prosecutor from her hospital mattress on Thursday, officers stated.

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

“The regulation needs to be enforced,” stated 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, stated it was arduous to overstate the toll that such circumstances tackle individuals within the camps.

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

“The impulse to prosecute her reasonably than assist her,” Ms. Cossé added, “just isn’t solely emblematic of what’s flawed with Europe’s method to migration, however it additionally reveals Greece’s lack of compassion and humanity.”

In latest months, rights teams have denounced the Greek authorities’ more and more powerful actions concerning migrants. In November, an Afghan man was charged with endangering the life 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, stated 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 completely.

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

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