Earlier this week I travelled to Greece and visited a refugee camp in Piraeus, Athens. What I saw there was harrowing – hundreds of people are living in inhumane conditions in a dark and dirty old shipping depot without sufficient supplies or sanitation. A young child had tragically passed away in the camp over the weekend after falling ill and the refugees that I met there told me they had been there for well over a week, trapped because European nations were closing their borders so they had nowhere else to go.
Witnessing this tragic scene first hand reinforced to me that the refugee crisis will not be solved by European nations turning their backs or passing the buck. This can only make things even worse. Travelling to the camp on the same day that European Union leaders met in Brussels to discuss their response to the crisis, it was clear that this situation can only be tackled if European nations reopen their borders and work to reach a collective political agreement.
Whilst in Athens I also met with Greek government ministers and the leaders of local volunteer networks who are working to help the refugees that are arriving in Greece. The Greek authorities are being overwhelmed and don’t have the resources to deal with this problem alone. This simply cannot go on, and a political agreement is required urgently to alleviate the suffering of these refugees fleeing war-torn nations.
I also tweeted a short video from the camp which you can watch here.