Migrant arrivals continue amid rising tensions

Migrant arrivals continue amid rising tensions

Amid an unabating influx of irregular migrants from Turkey, local authorities on the Aegean islands are ramping up their protests. At the same time, police have smashed a racket that had been selling fake medical certificates to asylum seekers seeking a swift transfer to the mainland. 

More than 1,000 migrants have landed on the islands in the past four days, according to official figures, putting more pressure on already overcrowded state camps. 

Meanwhile, the mayors of Lesvos, Samos and Chios are planning protests next week – coordinated by Regional Governor Konstantinos Moutzouris – over government plans to create new reception facilities on those islands. 

Tolerance is generally wearing thin. Early on Thursday a group of Leros residents led by Mayor Michalis Kollias prevented the docking of a ferry carrying migrants from other islands, forcing it to shift course to Piraeus. The reception facility on Leros is hosting 2,280 people – above capacity but nowhere near as crowded as the Moria center on Lesvos, where 17,000 people are cramped into a space designed to hold 2,840. 

Police on Thursday announced the arrest of three suspected members of a racket believed to have supplied hundreds of migrants with forged documents certifying them as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder so that they could secure a transfer to the Greek mainland where reception centers are less crowded.

The ring was found to have issued 538 such documents, according to police who said that the three suspects – two lawyers and a psychologist – made between 550 euros and 950 euros each for every fake certificate they produced. 

Separately, a 27-year-old Afghan woman died in a fire that started in a container home in the makeshift Kara Tepe migrant camp on Lesvos. The woman’s 28-year-old husband managed to safely remove the couple’s three children from the container. An investigation was launched into the cause of the fire.

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