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Society

At Lesbos Refugee Camp with German Official, Greek Minister Asks EU Help

As Armin Laschet, state premier of Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia, saw the notorious Moria refugee and migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece's  Alternate Migration Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos called out the European Union to help.

That same plea has been made for several years and ignored after the EU closed its borders to them and other countries reneged on promises to help take some of the overload, Greece trying to manage more than 100,000 in detention centers.

That includes more than 34,000 on islands near Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to keep operating during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the bloc, almost all seeking asylum, which can take up to two years or more.

Accompanied by, the German official saw the scope of the problem in a camp that the BBC several years earlier called “the worst in the world.”

“The size of the challenge, both humanitarian and as relates to security, is too big for Greece to handle alone,” Koumoutsakos said, adding that “solidarity is necessary from Europe if it is to be addressed,” said Kathimerini.

Koumoutsakos said he and Laschet talked Greece’s strategy in responding to the migration crisis as well as humanitarian support being offered by Germany, which has taken in hundreds of refugees from Greece.

There has been a big drop in the numbers coming to Greek islands during the COVID-19 pandemic although, curiously, there hasn't been an outbreak in camps so overwhelmed with people it's nearly impossible to keep safe social distances.

But Turkey is “a difficult and unpredictable neighbor that controls a pool of four million migrants and refugees,” Koumoutsakos told Reuters, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan using them as bargaining chips to get concessions, warning he will flood Greece and the EU with more otherwise.

Laschet also visited Mytilene City Hall, where he spoke with Mayor Stratis Kitelis, who pointed out that,  “The people of Mytilene have reached their limits of tolerance and ask Europe and especially Germany for specific support and relief, in the context of the European family.”

Laschet had a day earlier called off a visit over security concerns, local and German media reported, after officials had already arrived there but were advised not to enter the facility by the local head of security after dozens of migrants had gathered earlier inside the camp chanting slogans like “Free Moria.”

The migrants reportedly believed Laschet to be the prime minister of Germany and were planning to stage protest rallies, the newspaper also said.

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