Homemade solution to coronavirus from the ‘worst camp in the world’
Moria Camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos, is often referred to as the worst refugee camp in the world: squalid, overcrowded and now fearful of coronavirus.
So far, the coronavirus hasn’t reached this place. But if, and when, it does, it will find an inviting breeding ground.
More than 20,000 people squashed together in a camp designed for fewer than 3,000. Sporadic supplies of water and electricity. Basic hygiene.
There has been little support from the Greek government. Roadblocks have been put in place to try to stop the residents getting out of the camp, but precious little has come in the way of medical supplies. Until now.
Because, just down the road from the camp, positioned next to one of the roadblocks, is a breezeblock building used by a charity called Team Humanity.
It was set up to bring supplies to the people living in the camp – when I visited Lesbos a couple of weeks ago, they were handing out shoes to new arrivals.
Now the group has turned its attention to making masks. Using a mixture of cotton and plastic, a group of 45 volunteers, using 32 sewing machines, are aiming to produce up to 2,000 masks per day.
The design came off the internet – the point was to create something that could be used, washed in boiling water, and then used again.
Once they’ve got enough for the people in the camp, they’re aiming to make masks for vulnerable people across the island. These are not official products, but rather a cry of desperation turned into a production line.
“We felt that nobody was going to help us, so we decided that we had to help ourselves,” says Salam Aldeen, the founder of Team Humanity.
“We don’t have coronavirus in the camp at the moment but we have seen how it moves from place to place. We couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.”
They have only a limited supply of both cotton and plastic backing, and will need more if they are to provide masks for all the refugees in Moria.
An online appeal has also been set up to buy hand sanitisers because “we cannot rely on water in the camp”.
The prospect of a grim, fast-moving disease arriving in this miserable, packed place is a horrible one.
In the background, the sewing machines whirl, and these homemade masks come off the production line. And nobody knows what will happen next.
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