NEWS

Spike in migrant arrivals putting squeeze on Greek islands

TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

Migrants wearing thermal blankets wait for transport following a rescue operation by a Frontex patrol vessel at the port of Skala Sikamias, on the Greek island of Lesvos, early Thursday.

TAGS: Migration

With migrant arrivals from Turkey into Greece continuing to rise, the Citizens’ Protection Ministry on Thursday expressed an interest in renting buildings, tourist units and housing complexes to provide shelter for them and decongest the camps on the Greek islands.

Lesvos alone saw the arrival of 703 migrants and refugees between midnight Tuesday and Wednesday noon, while its Moria camp is currently hosting 13,500 people even though it was designed for just 3,000. Other island camps face similar woes, struggling to cope with numbers way beyond their capacities.

Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Giorgos Koumoutsakos said on Thursday that there has been a 200 percent increase arrivals since May.

Meanwhile, the government on Thursday pledged support for municipal and regional authorities to relieve pressure on island facilities and set up new accommodation facilities in other parts of the country.

The surge in arrivals as well as the 2016 agreement between Turkey and the European Union to stem migrant flows into the EU were discussed on Thursday in Ankara by Koumoutsakos and Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer were also in Ankara on Thursday for talks on the matter.

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