Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Greek islanders protest over overcrowded refugee camps

Nearly 75,000 people crossed illegally to Greece from Turkey in 2019

People protest outside the Municipality of Mytilene, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, to demand action from the Greek government to ease severe overcrowding at refugee camps. AP Photo/Aggelos Barai
People protest outside the Municipality of Mytilene, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, to demand action from the Greek government to ease severe overcrowding at refugee camps. AP Photo/Aggelos Barai

Protests have erupted on a number of Greek islands over severe overcrowding at refugee camps.

It comes after almost 75,000 people crossed illegally to Greece from Turkey in 2019.

The Greek islands hardest hit by migration are demanding that the Greek government eases the situation.

In some cases camps have more than 10 times the number of people they were built for.

The protests were being held on Wednesday on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos by residents and business owners where stores have been closed and public services suspended.

Their regional governors and mayors plan to travel to Athens on Thursday to present their demands to the government.

The number of migrants travelling to Greece has increased by almost 50 per cent from the previous year.

Island authorities are urging the Greek government to step up migrant transfers to the Greek mainland and are seeking further information on its plans to build additional facilities that would be used to detain migrants listed for deportation.

Last month, Greece predicted 100,000 more migrants will reach its shores from Turkey in 2020.

Greece’s bursting migrant camps are already under immense strain.

For the first time since 2016, Greece has become the main entry point for asylum seekers in Europe.

In December, six migrants died from exposure on the Greek-Turkish border in the Evros region.

It is a major crossing point for refugees and migrants trying to enter the EU from Turkey.

The number of migrants arriving in Greece peaked in 2015 when more than a million people, most of them Syrian refugees, crossed from Turkey, mainly by boat.

A deal struck between the EU and Ankara in 2016 helped to stem the flow.

But the number of people trying to cross Evros into Greece has increased since naval patrols intensified in the Aegean Sea that year.

Updated: January 22, 2020 03:50 PM

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