Renewed influx of migrants to islands a concern


Concerns are peaking again about the situation on the islands of the eastern Aegean, as some 2,300 undocumented migrants have arrived from neighboring Turkey in the past two weeks alone.

State-run facilities for the migrants are increasingly overcrowded, with the situation on Lesvos of particular concern. More than 5,000 people are living at the island’s Moria facility alone, with a large number of residents sleeping in tents and aid workers concerned about their well-being when the weather worsens.

Meanwhile the rate of returns to Turkey of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected is very slow, largely because many of them appeal against rejections in a bid to postpone their deportation.

Aid workers told Kathimerini that conditions at cramped camps are dire. “On the islands we are facing a humanitarian crisis which never really stopped,” according to Apostolos Veizis of Doctors Without Borders. “There are only temporary solutions [to problems] and no functional reception system, to operate over the long-term, has been set up,” he said, adding that some migrants have been stuck in camps for more than a year.

The mayor of Lesvos, Spyros Galinos, said central government authorities have not informed him of any plan to tackle the situation. “We are just waiting for the bomb to explode,” he said.