As dozens of migrants continue to land daily on the shores of eastern Aegean islands, and tensions rise in reception centers, local communities are becoming increasingly divided over growing migrant populations.
A total of 438 people arrived on the islands aboard smuggling boats from Turkey in the first three days of the week, with another 175 people arriving on the islet of Oinousses yesterday morning.
The latter were transferred to a center on nearby Chios which is very cramped with 1,600 people living in facilities designed to host 850.
The situation is worse on Samos, where a reception center designed to host 700 people is accommodating 2,850.
The Migration Ministry said around 1,000 migrants will be relocated to the mainland next week. But island authorities said that this will not adequately ease conditions at the overcrowded facilities.
Samos Mayor Michalis Angelopoulos on Thursday appealed for European Union support during a meeting of regional authority officials in Strasbourg. He said the Aegean islands “cannot bear the burden of the refugee problem which is threatening to divide Europe.”
There are divisions on the islands too. On Sunday rival groups are planning demonstrations on Samos – far-right extremists to protest the growing migrant population and leftists to protest the EU’s “anti-migrant” policy.
There are also rising tensions in makeshift migrant camps elsewhere in Greece.
Early on Thursday, in one of several occupied derelict buildings near the port of Patra, a 38-year-old Afghan man was hospitalized after being stabbed by four Pakistanis. The incident followed a recent knife attack on a 23-year-old Pakistani man by an Afghan in the city.
According to sources, the attacks are part of an ongoing dispute between rival gangs seeking to control the human trafficking trade.