With reception centers on Lesvos bursting at the seams and dozens more migrants arriving daily, the island’s mayor, Spyros Galinos, on Tuesday declared a general strike for Monday in protest.
Currently, some 1,500 people – including hundreds of small children – are stranded on the island living in tents, and fears are growing that winter may bring a new humanitarian crisis.
In total, there are more than 8,000 migrants and refugees on Lesvos, a favored destination of traffickers bringing people over from neighboring Turkey.
“Lesvos has a population of 32,000 residents and there are at the moment 8,300 migrants and refugees,” Galinos told Kathimerini.
Moreover, local police union members held a protest over deteriorating working conditions.
“The situation on Lesvos has fueled insecurity among citizens. The police force is dealing exclusively with the migrant issue,” the union chief Dimitris Alexiou said.
“We are not expendables,” he added.
And with flows to the eastern Aegean islands from Turkey showing no signs of letting up, locals and migrants have reached the end of their tether. Since the beginning of November, 1,603 people have arrived on the islands. In September, 6,000 people arrived from Turkey, the same number as in October.
On Monday, another 101 migrants landed on eastern Aegean islands, while more than 400 arrived over the weekend. The situation in the Moria camp on Lesvos is a case in point.
“Conditions at Moria have reached breaking point as the facility is three times over capacity,” said Michael Bakas, coordinator of the northern Aegean branch of the Ecologist Greens, who escorted visiting Group of the Greens MEP and vice chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Barbara Lochbihler.
Bakas said about 1,000 children are currently stranded at the camp. The issue will be discussed at the EU assembly on Wednesday.
Also on Tuesday, human rights activists urged Greece’s migration minister to transfer 350 unaccompanied minors from Moria.
“Existing facilities on the island are inadequate, they must be transferred to the mainland,” said the group calling itself “Coexistence and Communication in the Aegean.”