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Children play inside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, May 2, 2018. Amid protests, the government has promised to drastically reduce overcrowding at island camps over the summer.
Petros Giannakouris/AP

Greece Passes Controversial Bill to Reduce Overcrowding in Refugee Camps

The Greek parliament passed a bill addressing the overcrowding in Greek refugee camps following a heated 12-hour debate on Tuesday. The bill proposes measures to streamline the asylum-seeking process and reduce the wait time for the thousands of refugees in the camps on Greece’s islands.

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Currently, there are five refugee camps on Greek islands near Turkey, and all have exceeded their capacity by more than double. The bill calls for additional staff to handle asylum seekers’ claims and appeals.

Read More: Aid Workers Who Rescued 51 Migrants Are Cleared of Criminal Charges in Greece

However, though the bill would speed up the asylum-seeking process and reduce overcrowding in camps, it would also restrict the movement of refugees in Greece. The bill redoubles a law that was previously lifted by a Greek court last month, and once again keeps refugees isolated on the islands and restricts them from traveling to the mainland.

A group of 13 Greek human rights organizations has accused the government of violating refugee rights by restricting their freedom of movement. Rights groups have also criticized the policy for effectively creating a prison for the 11,000 refugees on the islands.

The vast majority of refugees in Greece come from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and pass through Turkey to reach the islands. Over the past four years, 1.1 million refugees fleeing violent conflict, human rights abuses, and climate disasters have made the dangerous journey on inflatable boats in the hopes of finding safety.

Read More: IKEA Is Donating Thousands of Mattresses to Refugees Across the US

The ongoing global refugee crisis is the largest displacement of people since the Second World War

Global Citizen campaigns in support of the Global Goals, which includes establishing peaceful and just societies, where all are treated equally. You can take action here to show your support for all people.