Action on arrivals pledged as Lesvos claims emergency

Action on arrivals pledged as Lesvos claims emergency

The caretaker government pledged on Wednesday to take steps to tackle the refugee crisis as the mayor of Lesvos called for the island to be declared in a state of emergency due to the high number of people arriving from Turkish shores.

Caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou chaired a meeting on Wednesday that resulted in the government announcing a set of measures aimed at making it easier to register and process refugees and migrants arriving on the Greek islands.

The government’s two main aims are to reduce the bureaucracy involved in registering arrivals and to increase the staff on hand to manage the process. Sources said that task forces made up of police and coast guard officers will be created in order to speed up the registration of refugees and migrants on the islands.

The caretaker administration is also considering simplifying the registration process for the next few weeks. This would allow refugees to be fast-tracked so they immediately receive their laissez-passer document allowing them to travel on from Greece.

Authorities are also considering the creation of two first reception mobile units to operate on Lesvos, where Mayor Spyros Galinos argued on Wednesday that a state of emergency should be called. He said that there may be more than 20,000 refugees on the island and that some 10,000 have gathered around the port, which has made it difficult for ferries to load and unload.

“Over the last two months, the number of migrants that have passed through the island has exceeded its population of 85,000,” he said, adding that the regular ferrying of people to Piraeus is hardly having an impact because of the large numbers of refugees arriving on dinghies.

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