Following a day of protests on Lesvos, Chios and Samos against the mounting pressure of irregular migration on the islands, the regional governor for the Northern Aegean, Kostas Moutzouris, and the mayors of the three islands are due in Athens on Thursday to deliver a petition to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis calling for a swift resolution to the problem.
After delivering the petition, the officials are expected to meet with Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis to discuss their concerns about intense overcrowding at existing island facilities and plans for new centers there, as well as to press their demands for the transfer of thousands of migrants to the mainland where there are plans for new camps to be set up.
Local authorities and business owners went on strike on Lesvos, Chios and Samos on Wednesday to protest the situation. Tax offices and other state services were closed and many businesses shut for the day as officials and storeowners joined the protests.
The key demand of the protesters is that the government ease overcrowding at the camps, while they also object to the plans for the new centers, with some fearing that the old camps will not end up closing down, piling up even more pressure on the islands.
On Lesvos, around 7,000 residents joined a demonstration at the island’s main port, some wielding banners saying “We want our islands back!” Similar rallies were held on the islands of Samos and Chios, where migrant reception facilities are also seriously overcrowded.