The S&D Group in the European Parliament insists on treating people with dignity when they arrive in Europe seeking asylum, and urges Greek and European authorities to show humane leadership in resolving the desperate and deplorable conditions for asylum seekers trapped on Greek islands. 

Over 12,500 people are still living in tents and containers, which are unsuitable for winter, in different hotspots on the Greek islands, the majority in Moria on the island of Lesbos. S&D MEPs call for action to be taken to put an end to the unsanitary and unhygienic conditions caused by overcrowding and to take measures to prevent physical violence that asylum seekers are facing. 

The S&D Group has been consistently calling for an overhaul of European rules on asylum. Member states have so far been unable to agree on the creation of a sustainable, unified and effective Common European Asylum System that the Socialists and Democrats are fighting for.  

Claude Moraes MEP, S&D vice-president for resilient democracies and fundamental Rights said:

“The situation in Moria is totally unacceptable. The tragic death of a woman in a fire a matter of weeks ago was the third fatal incident to take place at the camp since August. These were preventable tragedies. 

“In the absence of responsibility sharing mechanisms between EU countries, levels of overcrowding in refugee camps have reached crisis point. With a total lack of even basic measures of protection for women and girls and LGBTI people, we continue to witness distressing scenes where people are vulnerable to violence and sexual harassment and where people are too afraid to use bathroom or shower facilities on site. We have a duty to provide adequate standards of living for asylum seekers and to protect both physical and mental health through a fair and efficient asylum system. 

“By failing to support a system based on genuine solidarity and fair-sharing of responsibility, Member states are inflicting unfair and unnecessary suffering on asylum seekers.” 

Birgit Sippel MEP, S&D Coordinator on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee said:

“As winter approaches, it is urgent that asylum seekers on the Greek islands, in particular in Moria, are transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other European countries. Women, men and children seeking protection in Europe should not be forced to spend winter in unsafe and unhygienic camps. We need to guarantee the fundamental rights of those arriving by sea and by land to Europe.

“Many of those currently trapped on the islands cannot be returned to their countries of origin or countries of transit. Speeding up returns, as the right wing Greek government announced at the end of September, without ensuring proper asylum procedures will risk severe human rights violations and disrespecting fundamental rights and EU law. The only long-term solution to this humanitarian crisis is to reform the Common European Asylum System with sustainable answers based on solidarity.”

MEPs involved




S&D press contact

Macphee Ewan


Press Officer
United Kingdom

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