In a bid to ease the pressure on the cramped Moria Reception and Identification Center on Lesvos and improve living conditions at the camp, authorities on Monday started moving hundreds of refugees and migrants to facilities on the mainland. But even as the transfers got under way, another 125 migrants reached Lesvos on boats from neighboring Turkey.
A ship carrying 722 people docked in Thessaloniki Monday afternoon, with hundreds more scheduled to reach the northern port Tuesday. There was a delay in the ferry’s departure from the island as around 300 of the migrants who had been scheduled to board could not be located, Kathimerini understands.
The asylum seekers are to be housed in facilities in Nea Kavala and other parts of the northern mainland.
The authorities’ intention was to move 1,400 people out of the overcrowded Moria camp where tensions have been growing in recent weeks. The facility has been housing more than 10,000 people, nearly four times its maximum capacity.
By early next week, there are plans to transfer more residents from camps on other islands, most likely from Samos, where conditions at the Vathy facility are said to be even worse than Moria, or from Chios.
The relocation of migrants from island camps is one of a series of emergency measures decided on by a government council over the weekend following the arrival of more than 500 people last Thursday – the largest number in one day since the peak of the refugee crisis in 2016.
In addition to relocations from the islands, the authorities are to bolster border controls and policing on the islands and the mainland.
Furthermore, reviews of asylum applications that have been rejected are to be abolished – a decision that has prompted angry responses by human rights groups who have accused the government of breaking Greek and European laws.