ATHENS – With a tide of refugees and migrants landing on Greek islands from nearby Turkey, where they had gone fleeing war and strife in their homelands, compassion fatigue has set in as residents and officials are protesting government plans to deal with it by replacing camps with detention centers to sort out those ineligible for asylum.
There are some 96,000 in Greece, including 36,000 on islands, the numbers jumping since New Democracy won July 7 snap elections, leading Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to say his government would speed asylum applications but also deportations.
With virtually all seeking sanctuary to prevent being returned to Turkey and an unknown fate, some are so desperate they have been buying fake medical certificates attesting they have traumatic disorders, Greek police busting a ring providing them, said Kathimerini.
More than 1,000 migrants landed on the islands in the four days leading up to Dec. 5, according to official figures, putting more pressure on already overcrowded state camps while the mayors of Lesbos, Samos and Chios planning protests – coordinated by Regional Governor Konstantinos Moutzouris – over government plans to create new detention facilities there as Mitsotakis said 20,000 would be moved to the mainland.
He said he wanted to send a similar number back to Turkey under a suspended swap deal with the European Union which has seen only 2,000 returned in the last four years.
On Leros, residents led by Mayor Michalis Kollias prevented the docking of a ferry carrying migrants from other islands, forcing it to shift course to Piraeus. The reception facility on Leros is holding 2,280 people while the Moria center on Lesbos has 17,000 in a space designed to hold 2,840, leading to frequent violence between groups and with police.