With protests from Greek islands officials about overcrowding of refugee and migrant centers, Lesbos Mayor Spyros Galinos said residents are growing uneasy.
Lesbos is one of the islands closest to Turkey which lets human traffickers sent refugees and migrants to Greece, a problem that hasn’t ended despite a European Union swap that has proved largely ineffective and left Greece with more than 64,000 arrivals, many seeking asylum after Europe closed its borders to them.
Some 1,500 people – including hundreds of small children – are stranded on the island living in tents, and fears are growing that winter may bring a new humanitarian crisis as Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas continues to do almost nothing despite being ripped even by elements in his own ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party.
“Lesbos has a population of 32,000 residents and there are at the moment 8,300 migrants and refugees,” Galinos told Kathimerini who has repeatedly asked for them to be moved to mainland, with Mouzalas has refused, saying it will jeopardize the EU-Turkey deal that has left Greece left almost alone to deal with the problem.
Police on the island went on protest over working conditions and as there has been growing tension and violence in the central Moria refugee camp.
“The situation on Lesbos has fueled insecurity among citizens. The police force is dealing exclusively with the migrant issue,” the union chief Dimitris Alexiou said. “We are not expendables,” he told the paper.
While the swap deal greatly slowed the numbers arriving from Turkey, the conduit for thos fleeing war and strife in the Mideast, particularly Syria’s civil war, there’s been a slight surge again with people anxious to reach Greek islands before the bad weather sets in.
Since the beginning of November, 1,603 people have arrived on the islands. In September, 6,000 people arrived from Turkey, the same number as in October.
On Nov. 13, another 101 migrants landed on eastern Aegean islands, after more than 400 arrived Nov. 11-12.
“Conditions at Moria have reached breaking point as the facility is three times over capacity,” said Michael Bakas, Coordinator of the northern Aegean branch of the Ecologist Greens, who escorted visiting Group of the Greens Members of the European Parliament and the Vice Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Barbara Lochbihler.
Bakas said about 1,000 children arely stranded at the camp. Human rights activists urged Greece’s migration minister to transfer 350 unaccompanied minors from Moria.
“Existing facilities on the island are inadequate, they must be transferred to the mainland,” said the group calling itself Coexistence and Communication in the Aegean. They were ignored too.