Greek islands overwhelmed with refugees and migrants sent there by human traffickers from Italy have more than 12,000 in detention centers and camps designed to hold only 5,000, with some transfers to the mainland cutting the numbers from 15,000, officials on those most affected said.
The Regional Governor for the northern Aegean, Christiana Kalogirou, told SKAI TV that that existing conditions “do not match up with our values,” an apparent reference to human rights groups saying the people are being kept in subhuman conditions.
Video secretly filmed by the German news agency Deutsche Welle showed people in the Moria detention center on Lesbos living among feces and filth and with toilets not working, people sleeping in tents during the winter and residents complaining there’s not even enough blankets or other essentials.
Kalogirou said the onset of winter, which has been unusually mild so far, hasn’t slowed an uptick in arrivals, with another 500 landing on islands since the first of the year, with Lesbos, Samos and Chios the preferred destinations.
Greece has another 50,000 in camps on the mainland, stuck there after the European Union closed its borders and reneged on promises to help take part of the overload and as the bloc’s migration chief, Greece’s Dimitris Avramopoulos hasn’t forced to them to live up to the promise, saying it was too politically delicate.
Kalogirou said Greece should speed asylum procedures and ease crowding, as some of the refugees and migrants have been waiting two years to learn their fate. Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has mostly refused to allow mass transferrals to the mainland and come under fire in his own ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party for what critics said was his failure to respond to the crisis and as he said he couldn’t guarantee refugees wouldn’t die this winter.