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Ramadan a challenge for migrants trapped in Greece

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SCHISTO, GREECE — Expecting twins in a couple of months, Shahnaz Sadat is not obliged to fast for Ramadan — but stuck in a migrant camp in Greece, she’d be hard put to even if she wanted to.

“Every night, every time the food is potato. But we can’t eat it,” said the 22-year-old, who is four months pregnant.

“How can we follow the Ramadan with this food? Food is not good. Especially for women, for children, for pregnant women, for all of them,” she told AFP at the army-run camp of Schisto near Athens.

And for drinking water, they have to queue at the bathroom sink, she said.

Previously a disused army base in Athens’ industrial zone, Schisto houses 1,700 people of all ages, the vast majority from Afghanistan.

Around 700 have expressed an interest in fasting, according to authorities here.

No figures are currently available for the other camps housing over 45,000 people who became trapped in Greece when Balkan nations began shutting their borders to migrants in February.

Greek officials say those fasting are given their sundown meal together with the pre-dawn meal, which they can pack away and eat at their discretion.

“There is a concerted effort to deal with a situation whose scale is unprecedented in Greece,” a government source said.

An official menu provided to AFP includes beans, pasta, rice, chicken, chickpeas, peas, eggs, boiled potato and fruit.

“We checked this with migrant communities and with religion experts from the education ministry,” the government official said.

“Clear instructions have been sent to camp overseers on the topic…we are providing high nutrition value food that can also be kept out of the fridge,” the official added.

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Schisto’s civilian supervisor Panagiotis Karakatsanis says that “things are slower” during the day as many of those who fast trying to conserve energy until dusk.

But in the warm summer sun, the tents become so hot that it is difficult to rest, says Shahnaz.

“The tent becomes so warm, so hot,” she said.

To commemorate the divine revelation received by the Prophet Mohammed, during Ramadan, faithful Muslims abstain during daylight hours from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex.

At sunset they break the fast with a meal known as iftar and before dawn have a second opportunity to eat and drink during suhur.

AFP

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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