The European Commission said it “deeply deplores” the death of a woman and injury of her child during a fire inside the overcrowded migrant camp of Moria, Lesvos, over the weekend, describing it as a “truly tragic event.”
"The increased arrivals in Greece over the past weeks have put immense strain on an already fraught system and are creating unsustainable conditions," said Commission Deputy Chief Spokesperson Mina Andreeva in response to questions on Monday.
"The Commission remains and is committed to assisting the Greek authorities with the utmost urgency in implementing emergency measures to elevate the situation," she said, adding that the Commission welcomed the emergency measures announced by Greek authorities to address issues of reception capacity in view of the increased arrivals.
"We stand ready to step up our support and will continue to do everything within our remit to support the Greek authorities, who are responsible for the management of the situation, in order to improve it," she added.
Following a cabinet meeting in Athens, the government announced it will tighten up border control by increasing sea patrols, set up closed-structure pre-departure centers for people who have entered Greece illegally and have no right to asylum (or individuals whose asylum claim has been rejected), and create a safe country list for people who have entered the country illegally.
It also said it would decongest reception facilities on the Aegean islands by transferring people to the mainland and seek to increase the involvement of the European Union and key European governments in tackling the issue.
Andreeva said that European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday to discuss the issue.
Avramopoulos is also due to visit Greece and Turkey on Thursday and Friday, accompanied by the interior ministers of Germany, Horst Seehofer, and France, Christophe Castaner, to discuss the situation in Greece and ways to cooperate with Turkey on migration management.