NEWS

More ferries to help take migrants from Aegean islands

more-ferries-to-help-take-migrants-from-aegean-islands

Authorities are planning to add more ferries to the route linking the islands of the eastern Aegean to the port of Piraeus and elsewhere on the mainland in a bid to ease pressure on the islands which are on the front line of an influx of migrants.

The matter was discussed on Monday during a meeting chaired by State Minister Alekos Flambouraris, who is coordinating the government’s response to the crisis.

The situation remained particularly difficult on two islands which are busy tourist resorts: Kos and Lesvos. Around 3,000 migrants were unable to leave Lesvos on Monday, despite having undergone police identification procedures, as there are no places on ferries.

Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos told Kathimerini that he is in touch with Shipping Minister Theodoris Dritsas to discuss additional ferry routes that will transfer migrants from the islands to the mainland.

On Monday a crowd of migrants waiting to be registered outside the coast guard office in the main port of Lesvos broke into scuffles as some latecomers tried to push to the front of the line. The night before there had been tension as Iraqis protested while some 1,800 Syrians boarded a ferry to leave the island.

A Citizens’ Protection Ministry official told Kathimerini that the government aims to have a ferry serving the route linking the islands to the mainland every two days.

The identification process may be shifted from the islands to the immigration services in Athens and Thessaloniki, he said.