Europe

EU Commission: 'untenable' situation in Greek refugee camps

  • A Syrian refugee woman hangs her laundry in front of her shelter at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    A Syrian refugee woman hangs her laundry in front of her shelter at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Syrian refugee woman hangs a wet blanket to dry outside her shelter at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    A Syrian refugee woman hangs a wet blanket to dry outside her shelter at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)  (The Associated Press)

  • An elderly Syrian refugee man walks back to his shelter on a frozen ground at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.  Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

    An elderly Syrian refugee man walks back to his shelter on a frozen ground at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)  (The Associated Press)

The European Commission says conditions for refugees on Greek islands and in other camps where they are housed in tents despite severe cold weather, is "untenable."

Heavy snowfall has hit large swaths of Greece, including the eastern Aegean islands where thousands of refugees are stranded. Giorgos Kyritsis, spokesman for the government's crisis committee on migration, told Greece's Skai television that just under 1,000 people remain housed in tents on the islands.

The severe weather had been forecast well in advance, and the government has come under fire for not acting fast enough to ensure all refugees are adequately housed.

Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said the commission "is aware that the situation is currently untenable, but we also have to be clear" that conditions in reception centers are the responsibility of Greek authorities.