Monthly Archives: September 2020

Lesbos islanders and migrants stuck waiting for Europe to decide

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Crisis-weary residents of the Greek island of Lesbos and the thousands of migrants stranded there after this week’s refugee centre fire are united by one thing—they all want to see the migrants moved off the island.

Lesbos and other islands off the Turkish coast have been among the main entry points for migrants into Europe for years, peaking in 2015-16 when around a million people arrived in a seemingly endless stream of small boats. The overflowing camp that burned held more than 12,000 migrants—four times the numbers it was supposed to—forcing thousands to live in squalor and putting a strain on both its occupants and residents in nearby areas who have mounted a series of protests this year demanding the centre be shut down.

But with the European Union unable to reach agreement between countries like Greece and Italy, which want the bloc to share the burden and others refusing to take in refugees, for the moment Lesbos’ 86,000 islanders and migrants remain unwillingly together.

Greeks oppose continued sheltering of migrants

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Thousands of migrants remained stranded without shelter on the island of Lesbos, sleeping on streets or in fields near Greece’s largest refugee camp after a devastating fire burned the facility to the ground. The Moria camp, long notorious for poor living conditions, had hosted more than 12,000 migrants, four times its stated capacity.

The Greek government said it had secured thousands of tents to provide temporary shelter for the migrants. But Athens’s plans face stiff resistance from local authorities and residents who fear the temporary shelters will turn into another permanent migrant camp.

“Moria is a monstrosity,” Dimitris Koursoubas, a senior official responsible for migration in the northern Aegean islands, told Reuters. “We want all the migrants out, for national reasons. Moria is over.”

[Reuters]