As islands remain under pressure, minister seeks to reassure

As islands remain under pressure, minister seeks to reassure

As dozens of undocumented migrants continue to arrive on the islands of the eastern Aegean, where reception centers for asylum seekers are already overcrowded, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas indicated in comments in Parliament on Friday that the government would deal with any new spike in arrivals from neighboring Turkey. 

The slow pace of returning to Turkey migrants whose appeals for asylum are rejected, and of transfers to reception centers on the mainland, mean that camps on the islands remain under pressure. 

“If the flows increase, then everything will be reviewed,” Mouzalas said.

He indicated that further precautions would be taken in the event that numbers increase significantly and the weather worsens. “We are not magicians, no one has a magic wand,” he said. “Every time we find a way to adapt,” he added.

The minister did not determine how much the arrivals would have to rise nor determine what measures would be adopted, though officials have indicated in recent weeks that migrants could be accommodated on ferries moored in island ports.

Some 15,200 undocumented migrants are currently living in reception centers on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.

There are 8,171 migrants on Lesvos, most of them in a sprawling center near the village of Moria. Around 1,500 are sleeping in tents set up around the Moria center.

Though the weather has been unseasonably good in recent weeks, rights groups warn that the onset of winter will result in serious problems for migrants living outdoors.

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