A refugee family waits at the dock after their arrival at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, on Tuesday.
The European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex on Tuesday bolstered its presence in the Aegean as doctors on Lesvos, a popular entry point for thousands of desperate people seeking to enter Europe, said hospitals are unable to respond to the crisis.
Frontex said Tuesday that it had sent 293 employees – inspectors and translators – and 15 boats to the Aegean islands. Dozens more Frontex staff are to be dispatched to Greece over the coming weeks. Greek government sources indicated however that the size of the Frontex force is still insufficient to deal with a crisis that has led to some 800,000 migrants traveling through Greece this year.
The eastern Aegean island of Lesvos continues to bear the brunt of the influx. The island’s infrastructure has buckled under the pressure and, local doctors told Kathimerini, there is an inadequate number of medics at the island’s hospitals to respond to the situation. According to Stratis Pavlis, the head of the local hospital doctors’ union, the health system resources were already stretched before the number of migrant arrivals multiplied this year. Pavlis told Kathimerini that hospitals have 30 percent fewer doctors than they need to operate and that the shortage of nurses is even more acute. Pavlis said that volunteers have been a great help but that more trained doctors were needed. “It is an emergency situation which should be treated as such,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the wake of German criticism of Greece’s response to the refugee crisis, Bavarian Manfred Weber, who heads the European People’s Party group of MEPs in the European Parliament, on Tuesday called for a temporary exit of Greece from the Schengen area.