The island’s Pournara migrant centre is way too overcrowded and has exceeded its operation limits, a report by the Ombudsman’s office released on Friday said.
In a recent surprise visit there, Ombudsman Maria Lottidou counted a record number of 968 people, indicating the alarmingly rising number of illegal immigrants arriving primarily from Turkish ports.
“The Centre is now suffocating, and this overpopulation inevitably has an impact on the life of residents and on their full enjoyment of human rights,” she noted.
She also focused on the problems in covid-19 quarantine areas where 603 people currently live.
“These guests face serious problems in terms of hygiene conditions, while there is a risk for the further spread of the virus if they still remain there at the end of the 14-day quarantine because of lack of space,” she added.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, asylum seekers were admitted to the Pournara migrant centre for three days before undergoing health tests and then being released.
Since the pandemic, a large number of migrants have not been released from the centre. This includes those who cannot give the authorities a specific address.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet approved renting a building to house undocumented migrants as reception centres were full, according to an announcement by the Interior Ministry.