In comments following a large fire possibly started during a riot at a migrant processing center on the island of Lesvos on Monday night, the regional governor for the Northern Aegean, Christiana Kalogirou, warned of an ‘unmanageable situation’ on the islands bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis.
“The islanders are well-intentioned but there is fatigue,” Kalogirou told Skai TV on Tuesday, referring to a protest on Monday by residents of the Lesvos village of Moria where the processing center, or hot spot, is located.
“The Northern Aegean cannot bear such a burden alone and neither can Greece,” she said. “Europe has not responded to its commitments.”
Kalogirou warned that the islands of the region are currently hosting more than 10,500 refugees and migrants when they have facilities for half that number.
“Measures must be taken immediately; there is no time to lose,” she said, adding that an uptick in arrivals from Turkey over the past few weeks is further exacerbating the situation.
“This is a humanitarian issue, but there is also the question of the burden on the local economies and communities,” Kalogirou said.
The regional governor met on Tuesday with Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas and was assured of a stronger police presence on the islands hosting migrant facilities.
According to police figures, there are currently 5,302 migrants on Lesvos, 3,726 on Chios and 1,156 on Samos, while the total number on the islands of the Northern Aegean has reached 10,184.
Echoing Kalogirou’s concerns, Panos Navrozidis, country director in Greece for the aid agency International Rescue Committee, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that “last night’s fires at Moria on the Greek island of Lesvos symbolize the shortcomings of the European response to the refugee crisis.”
“Moria has been operating at over-capacity for months now with refugees crammed into the facility with limited infrastructure in place, limited access to water, and in conditions that do not meet humanitarian standards,” he said.