NEWS

Moria migrant camp on Lesvos back in crisis

ANTHI PAZIANOU

TAGS: Migration

The head of the Moria migrant processing center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, Yiannis Balpakakis, does not rule out resigning, saying that he is exhausted of dealing with the challenges of overcrowding.

“The unpredictable factor of arrivals is the biggest problem,” Balpakakis told Kathimerini ahead of Thursday's scheduled visit by the deputy citizens’ protection minister responsible for immigration affairs, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, adding that the camp received 115 new asylum seekers on Tuesday alone.

The struggle to cope with 7,370 asylum seekers crammed into a facility designed for 3,000 is most evident in the long lines outside the camp’s showers and toilets, which have not been connected to the island’s waste treatment plant yet, says Balpakakis, adding that the stench can become unbearable at times.

“We’ve even run out of space to install more chemical toilets,” he laments, saying that getting food distributed on time is also an uphill battle.

The issue of unaccompanied minors is another concern, as Moria is equipped to handle 160 but has 505 boys and girls under the age of 18 who are not with a parent or chaperone. There are also some 2,200 children with parents staying at the camp, says Balpakakis.

The government has pledged to relocate around 700 of the camp’s residents to facilities on the Greek mainland by the end of the month, while Balpakakis says another 3,000 could be transferred if room is found for them.

Overcrowding continues to be a challenge at the other camps in the Aegean as well, with the population on Samos reaching 3,568 at a facility built for 648 and that on Chios dealing with double its capacity at 2,349 refugees and migrants, official figures published on Monday showed.

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