Governments along the Western Balkan route into the European Union must do more to help migrants and refugees who are dying in the cold winter weather rather than just violently push them back from the border, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday, adding that the “situation in Greece is dire.”
“Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this,” said UNICEF spokesperson Sarah Crowe at a UN briefing in Geneva, while the UNHCR called for the transfer of some 1,000 people, including children, who are living outdoors in tents with no heating on the island of Samos to shelters on the Greek mainland.
Meanwhile, locals on the island of Lesvos are reportedly dismayed by the presence of the Lesvos, a navy vessel which has become a temporary shelter for just 40 asylum seekers.
In a letter to Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, the island’s mayor, Spyros Galinos, called for the transfer of a sizable number of asylum seekers from camps on Lesvos in order to “finally decongest the island.”
Galinos accused Mouzalas of transforming the port into a reception center and slammed what he described as the minister’s failed policies which have had “tragic consequences for the island.”
Despite the presence of the vessel, migrants at the Moria camp are refusing to move there as they prefer to remain close to the nearby Asylum Service to get information and updates on their applications.
Due to the cold snap, some 235 of them are being temporarily put up at hotels.
More than 15,000 refugees and migrants are stranded at camps across the islands of the eastern Aegean.