SAMOS – Frustrated with trying to handle an overload of refugees and migrants who came from nearby Turkey – where they had gone fleeing war and strife in other countries – officials on the eastern part of the island of Samos want residents to push for faster transfers to Greece’s mainland.
The New Democracy government said it would move 20,000 of the more than 45,000 refugees and migrants on islands and speed asylum processing as well as deportations back to Turkey – if possible – but authorities on Samos said it’s not happening fast enough.
They called for a rally for Jan. 7 at the main port, a decision that came after an emergency meeting to talk about two navy ships at the port that were sent to help relocate hundreds of vulnerable migrants and refugees, such as unaccompanied minors, staying in makeshift shelters outside the official identification and reception center, said Kathimerini.
Officials there acknowledged bad weather in the form cold temperatures, high winds and stormy seas had been part of the delay but said the government should now move the refugees and migrants to “facilities that will ensure humane living conditions” and allow them to complete their asylum applications.
The regional governor of the Northern Aegean, Kostas Moutzouris, called an emergency meeting of island mayors as well to discuss the crisis affecting islands near Turkey which has taken back only about 2,000 during an essentially-suspended swap deal with the European Union that’s not working.