Another 700 migrants relocated to Greek mainland from overcrowded island camps
A further 700 refugees and migrants were relocated from the Greek islands to the mainland on 7 October. The move is part of ongoing efforts by the Greek authorities to decongest the dangerously overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands.
The group was made up mostly of Afghan families with children who had been living in tough conditions on the islands of Lesvos, Kos, Chios, Samos and Leros.
Some of the relocated migrants are hopeful about the move. A 24-year-old Afghan woman said: “I was in Moria [on Lesvos] for the last 10 months. The situation was very difficult there for me and my family. This is a new day for us and we can now see the future from a different scope.”
Indeed, the living conditions in the island camps had become dire. Moria camp, in particular, was hosting over 13,000 migrants when it only had capacity for 3,000.
Aid groups continue to call for the immediate evacuation of all vulnerable people. “We are constantly bracing ourselves for a new tragedy,” said Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, the International Rescue Committee’s director in Greece.
After leaving the island camps, the migrants were taken to Piraeus, Greek’s largest port. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) then transferred them to new accommodation facilities where they will stay for now.
“IOM is ensuring smooth and effective operations at all accommodation facilities on the mainland of Greece and providing comprehensive services to the vulnerable groups,” said Gianluca Rocco, IOM Chief of Mission for Greece.
In August 2019, about 7,000 irregular migrants reached Greek shores, the highest number since a 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey was signed to reduce the flow of migrants to Europe.
As well as relocating migrants to the mainland, the Greek government plans to deal with the high volume of arrivals by returning 10,000 irregular migrants to Turkey by the end of 2020.
Photo Credit: Achilleas Chiras / Shutterstock.com
Photo Caption: Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia / Greece – September 2.2019: Migrants and refugees arrives at the port of Thessaloniki from the island of Lesvos.