Lesvos center for young migrants runs out of cash, supplies and soon food

A special reception center for unaccompanied immigrant minors on the Aegean island of Lesvos has run out of money to accommodate its 58 residents and remains unstaffed as the contracts of its 23 employees have expired, the director of the facility, Panayiotis Psyroukis, has told Kathimerini.

The unit, near the village of Agiasos in the heart of the island, has been operating since April 1 thanks to staff donations, Psyroukis said, adding that a chef had been secured from a regional health center for the past two months. With food supplies expected to run out as early as Saturday, however, there is nothing for him to cook. “Soon the children won’t have a plate of food to eat,” Psyroukis said, adding that first-aid supplies have also run out.

Labor Ministry officials said they had contacted the European Commission’s Refugee Fund to seek funding to keep the center operational but have yet to receive a response. Psyroukis drew attention to a provision in EU law which allows member states to take “emergency measures” when certain areas come under heavy pressure. He added that funding has always been a problem for the facility, noting that of the 58 months of its operation, the state had only covered 38.5 months. “We covered the rest from the inside,” he said, “but there is no more scope for this.”

In just under five years, an estimated 3,500 unaccompanied minors have been accommodated at the Agiasos center on Lesvos, which, due to its proximity to neighboring Turkey, remains a popular first stop for would-be migrants heading to Western Europe.