At Greek Refugee Camp, Women’s Hygiene Products are Scarce

Menstrual hygiene and sanitizing products are scarce at the large Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, according to the Women’s Media Center.

Since the start of the pandemic, the two main women’s hygiene providers at the camp have had to switch focus to other Covid-19 essential services. Distribution of sanitary pads has almost completely ended, while projects that provide showers for residents have also been stopped.

“Most remaining service providers who are doing Covid-19 relief work are focusing on basic hygiene related to the virus,” said Ambre Macdougald, a coordinator for the Greek nonprofit Becky’s Bathhouse. “And women’s hygiene needs are still largely ignored.”

Hundreds of people at Moria share a water tap, according to Oxfam. There is one toilet for every 160 people, and 500 people to a shower. The temporary holding camp was originally a place for 3,000 refugees, yet with new arrivals every day and a lack of a relocation plan, the number of people at the camp soared to more than 20,000 at the beginning of the summer. The camp’s population is now down to about 15,000.

A coordinated effort between NGOs and the International Rescue Committee provided 1,800 women and girls with hygiene products in July. Yet, the distributions are hardly enough.

“Under these conditions, a woman’s ability to manage her period in a dignified manner is impossible,” a humanitarian campaigns specialist Aanjalie Collure said.

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