Efforts to improve living conditions at reception centers for migrants on the islands of the eastern Aegean are progressing slowly amid continuing resistance from locals toward expanding facilities to accommodate hundreds of new arrivals from neighboring Turkey.
On Tuesday alone, 196 undocumented migrants reached Aegean islands from Turkey, being sent to reception centers that are already cramped. On Lesvos and Chios, the facilities are hosting more than double the number of people they were designed to hold: 7,520 and 2,063 respectively.
Hundreds of migrants have been transferred from the island facilities to less crowded camps on the mainland but, as the pace of arrivals is faster than that of the transfers and conditions remain substandard at the island camps.
The general secretary for migration policy, Miltiades Klapas, traveled to Chios on Wednesday to inspect progress in the erection of prefabricated buildings around the island’s main reception center to host scores of asylum seekers sleeping in tents.
A total of 50 structures were sent to the island before the holidays but, by Wednesday, only eight had been set up. Works to upgrade the electricity and drainage systems for the accommodation are also dragging.
A key reason for the delays is the continuing objection of local authorities to the presence of thousands of undocumented migrants on the island.
The municipality of Chios has appealed to the Greek justice system, seeking the evacuation of the Vial reception center.