LEROS, Greece – The New Democracy government’s plan to transfer thousands of migrants and refugees off islands was aimed at bringing them to the mainland but residents and officials on the Aegean island of Leros said they’re being targeted too and they prevented it.
Speaking to the newspaper Rodiaki, Leros Mayor Michalis Kolias said that island facilities already are holding nearly 3,000 migrants in a detention center with a capacity of 800 and objected to plans to bring another 40 from the island of Symi.
He urged residents to prevent the boat carrying them from letting them off and they did, similar to what residents of a village near Thessaloniki did earlier, blocking buses carrying 400 refugees and migrants at a capacity of 800. The boat was sent to the island of Kos instead, which is also housing refugees and migrants.
“Is it possible that 40 percent of the island’s 8,000 population are migrants?” he asked rhetorically in a slap at the plans to bring on even a relative handful more. The island is in the southern Dodecanese near Turkey which has allowed human traffickers to keep sending refugees and migrants to Greek islands during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the the European Union which has send few returned.
They had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands, particularly Syria’s civil war and Afghanistan, but also economic conditions in other countries, such as sub-Saharan Africa and the new Greek government wants to sort refugees fearing for their lives from migrants who aren’t in a plan to speed asylum applications but also deportations.