NEWS

Dozens of migrants, refugees being transferred from Symi island

TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

TAGS: Migration

Around 300 migrants and refugees who arrived from Turkey over the past few days are to be transferred off the southeastern Aegean island of Symi by the end of the week.

The decision comes in response to a number of complaints made by Symi Mayor Eleftherios Papakalodoukas, who has stressed that his island is completely unequipped to host, feed and care for asylum-seekers.

The official estimates that Symi has received around 1,500 migrants since the start of June, most of whom have been transferred to camps on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros. However, around 300 remain on the island.

“Right now there are between 50 and 70 people staying in the police station's forecourt, but the rest are out in the streets, sleeping rough,”  Papakalodoukas told Kathimerini on Monday.

Those who are not staying at the police station, he added, are having to rely on the charity of local residents and businesses for food, while the government plans to send a team of military doctors to the island to check on the migrants' health.

The island camps, however, are already struggling to cope with around 28,000 migrants and refugees in facilities built for 10,000. Though thousands of refugees in those camps have been categorized as being vulnerable due to their age or health problems, they cannot be transferred to the mainland as they are entitled due to a shortage of space at facilities there as well.

Meanwhile, the regional governor for central Greece, Fanis Spanos, said on Monday that plans to build a new camp in a disused military base in Karavomylos, east of the city of Lamia, have been shelved as a result of local reactions to the project.

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