Despite the ongoing talks on a Europe-wide and diplomatic level on how to assist Greece with the threat of a new crisis looming, migrant flows to the islands are continuing to rise, with 809 people having landed on their shores after traveling from the Turkey coast from Monday until Wednesday noon.
In response to the increase, another 389 people were ferried to Piraeus port Wednesday from Symi in the southeastern Aegean and were transferred by bus to six camps on the mainland – in Corinth, Thiva, Doliana, Filippiada, Skaramanga and Koutsohero – as part of an ongoing plan to decongest island camps.
“Those who have been transferred from Symi have already been informed that they will be formally registered and will file a request for asylum at a mobile unit that will go to the camps where they were transferred,” said Special Secretary for Reception Manos Logothetis.
According to information from people involved in transporting the migrants, most did not have any identification documents, claiming they had lost everything during their journey.
In the meantime, given that flows from Turkey to Symi have increased, the Citizens’ Protection Ministry plans to create a space on the island to accommodate new arrivals for a few days so they do not end up sleeping rough.
However, there are concerns that transfering people from Symi may lead to an increase in arrivals on the island, as it could be seen as a stepping stone to the mainland.
Given this possibility, Logothetis stressed that some parts of the agreement between the EU and Ankara may be re-evaluated at a time when Brussel’s continued funding of Turkey is under discussion.
“Even if these asylum seekers cannot return to Turkey, that does not mean they can’t return to their home country. Those who do not return to Turkey do not necessarily have to remain in Greece,” he said.