Cold snap fuels fears about migrants in tents


A drop in temperatures has fueled fears for scores of migrants living in tents outside overcrowded state reception centers on islands in the eastern Aegean, though authorities insist that action is being taken to tackle the problem.

With a cold front spreading across the country on Wednesday, and strong winds at sea, there were no reports of new arrivals on the islands. But human rights groups working in the eastern Aegean have drawn attention to substandard living conditions at the camps and warn that worsening weather will only aggravate the situation.

Overall the influx of migrants from Turkey has eased over the past two weeks due to inclement weather. Since January 11, a total of 188 people have reached Samos and another 76 arrived on Lesvos while there were no arrivals on Chios. So far this year, more than 1,000 people have reached the islands from Turkey – Lesvos received 531, Samos 417 and Chios 119.

Conditions at Lesvos’s Moria camp, which has drawn some of the harshest criticism by rights workers, are said to have improved slightly following the transfer of hundreds of migrants to the mainland.

In December there were 450 small tents around the Moria camp while now there are 80, according to the official in charge of the camp, Yiannis Balpakakis, who said they will be removed over the coming days.