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  1. ITV Report

'I left prison but arrived in another prison' Refugees speak of overcrowding at centres on Greek islands

A Welsh volunteer has said the refugee crisis in Greece is 'far from over' as over ten thousand refugees remain trapped on its many islands.

Caron Dukes, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, travelled out to the islands of Leros and Samos with S4C’s current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar, two years after volunteering there when thousands of refugees were fleeing daily across the sea from Turkey.

Many are held for months and some for more than a year - in what are supposed to be temporary reception and identification centres for those who land on Greek shores. However, some refugees have spoken out about at the poor conditions there.

Majida Ali, a 40 year old journalist from Syria arrived on the island of Samos in April after being persecuted by the Assad regime.

“I left prison, but I arrived in another prison," she told ITV News. "The same uniforms, the same shouting, the same faces. No humanity, no respect, nothing.”

Officially, the camp has enough space to accommodate 735 refugees, but there are currently over two thousand on the island.

In March 2016, the EU decided that Greece’s border with Europe should be closed for refugees, and struck a deal with Turkey to improve policing of its waters to reduce the number of arrivals in Europe.

1,156
April - number of refugees arriving in Greece (UNHCR)
4,866
September - number of refugees arriving in Greece (UNHCR)

According to the Samos Volunteers, a charity working on the island, the rise in the number of refugees arriving is having an impact on the availability of basic provisions like food, water and clothing. It is also leading to concerns about the safety of vulnerable people in the camps.

On 26 September, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment raised concerns about conditions in the camps, saying that the situation was “highly explosive” with “increasing anxiety and frustration due to uncertainty about the future; a perception of insecurity; inadequate material conditions and severe overcrowding; lack of coordination of health-care services.”

Majida Ali said she doesn’t feel safe in the camp.

The problem now is becoming worse and worse with all these people.

Everyone is angry now because the situation is so bad.

– Majida Ali

See more on this story with Y Byd ar Bedwar Tuesday, 9.30pm on S4C with English subtitles.