The dawning of 2018 saw more than 170 refugees and migrants land on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos, already overrun with thousands that human rights groups said are being kept in unfit detention centers and camps.
The arrivals, from nearby Turkey where human traffickers are allowed to operate during a suspended swap deal with the European Union, swelled the ranks on the islands, including Chios, already hosting more than 15,000 of them.
Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas until recently refused to allow transfers to the mainland, where they are are another 50,000 being detained and with most seeking asylum after the EU closed its borders to them.
Greek authorities said that the first New Year’s arrivals landed about 12:30 a.m. when a plastic boat carrying 52 people reached the coastline of Mytilene, the main port of Lesbos, according to Kathimerini.
Another 83 migrants arrived at 1.30 a.m. on another boat that followed the same route from neighboring Turkey which is holding hundreds of thousands who fled war and strife in the Middle East, especially Syria’s Civil War.
Shortly after midnight, a vessel belonging to the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex intercepted another plastic boat east of Samos, with 38 people aboard, the paper said, and all the arrivals were moved to the detention centers, scenes of frequent tension and violence and where secret videotape on Lesbos showed people living among feces and garbage and freezing in tents in winter with Mouzalas saying he couldn’t guarantee none wouldn’t die.