Migrant and refugee arrivals onto Greek shores have doubled since August 20 to reach as many as 180 people a day in clement weather, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Tuesday.
The increase in arrivals from Turkey has resulted “in a bad situation again” on the islands of the eastern Aegean that host migrant reception and processing centers, Mouzalas admitted, saying that the ministry is trying to improve conditions at overcrowded and under-resourced facilities.
Speaking on Thema radio, Mouzalas accused the European Union of contributing to the problem by failing to honor its commitments to Turkey in a deal for that country to take back asylum seekers whose applications are rejected and to crack down on migrant trafficking from its shores.
Mouzalas was also critical of what he described as contradictory reactions from local authorities and communities on the affected islands.
“On the one hand, they prevent moves to improve conditions and on the other they are hysterical about dissolving the deal with Turkey at any cost so as to transfer the migrants to the mainland,” Mouzalas said, referring to reactions toward ministry plans for increasing the number of housing units at certain island camps.
“Whoever says that emptying the islands will improve the situation is wrong,” Mouzalas said, reiterating concerns that moving all migrants and refugees to the mainland will simply encourage more arrivals.
“In 2017, we transferred 27,000 people to the mainland and 19,000 arrived on the islands,” he added.