Lesvos mayor calls on gov’t to decongest island as migrant influx grows


In a letter to Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, the mayor of Lesvos Spyros Galinos, has asked for immediate measures to decongest the eastern Aegean island which has seen a new surge in arrivals of undocumented migrants from neighboring Turkey.

In his letter, which was copied to European Migration Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, Galinos describes as "very difficult and borderline explosive" the situation on the island.

"There are more than 6,000 migrants and refugees in reception facilities on the island," Galinos wrote, noting that the venues were operating way above their capacity.

"The steady increase in arrivals, combined with the fact that no measures have been taken to ease overcrowding and conduct returns or transfers to mainland Greece, have led once more to a large population of asylum seekers becoming trapped on Lesvos," he wrote. 

The mayor also took issue with Mouzalas's argument that local authorities oppose the creation of a pre-departure center on the island, noting that the construction of yet another facility would not solve the problem.

"Lesvos has already offered a lot in the management of refugee flows and cannot lift a further burden," he wrote.

"The avoidance of measures until conditions worsen to such an extent that we have another crisis on our hands cannot be tolerated, under any circumstances, by the local community."
The society of Lesvos, he wrote, is "trapped in a vicious circle of crises and risks returning to zero every time it tries to recover."