German development aid minister Gerd Müller accused Europe of ignoring migrants, especially children, who are facing weeks of winter weather on Greece's island of Lesbos, at the recently improvised Kara Tepe tent camp.
"These are awful conditions — in the middle of Europe," said Müller.
The German minister blasted the new tent settlement, erected on former troop training grounds after September's blaze gutted the oft-criticized Moria camp. The Kara Tepe facility is "apparently no better," according to Müller.
"On the contrary, Doctors Without Borders has had to start a tetanus vaccination campaign because babies in damp tents are being bitten by rats," he said.
The hardest winter weeks were still ahead for the 7,300 migrants inside tents, Müller told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper in Bavaria, where he's a veteran member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).
Müller has advocated for vocational training in migrants' home countries, such as North Africa, and delivery chain rules to deter EU retailers from upholding near-slave labor.
'No life should start like this'
Recalling his conversations with a pregnant rape victim from Africa at Moria in 2018, as well as his visits to northern Iraq and South Sudan, Müller said nowhere had he experienced "worst conditions than on Lesbos."
"No life should start like this," said the 65-year-old minister, who is expected to retire next year.
While the EU needed to better protect its external borders, Müller said, Europe needed to boost investment in migrants' countries of origin and help them tackle conflict and poverty.
"We will not solve the refugee problems in the camps or here in Germany, but only on the ground in the developing countries," said Müller.
Greece became a main gateway to Europe in 2015 and 2016 until a deal to stem the flow was reached between the EU and Ankara.
ipj/dj (epd, KNA, AFP, dpa)