Protests against overcrowded migrant camps in Greek islands

Greece is feeling the effects of the migrant crisis with over 3,000 migrants landing on its shores in the first few weeks of 2020. Approximately 75,000 people crossed illegally to EU member Greece from Turkey last year according to a UN refugee agency, an increase of nearly 50% on the previous year.

New prime minster, Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the country can no longer cope with the influx, and business owners on the Greek islands led protest demonstrations this week demanding that the government ease the severe overcrowding in refugee camps.

Some camps have more than 10 times the number of people they were built for, and the notorious Moria camp on Lesvos and adjacent makeshift camps currently accommodate 21,441 people, against the main facility's 3,000 capacity maximum.

Most shops were closed and public services terminated on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and Samos, and under slogans such as “we want our islands back, we want our lives back”. People demonstrated on the streets, demanding solutions to the problems posed by the thousands of economic migrants and refugees.

There were further protests against the creation of new migrant facilities on the islands, and in a written statement, minister of migration, Notis Mitarkis called the islanders' protests “justified”, saying that “today the Greek islanders are bearing the brunt of the migration crisis, and solidarity at European and national level is necessary”.

As Greece processes thousands of migrants who seek a better life in Europe, officials have portrayed their anger with European states. Mitsotakis demands change, saying, “Europe regards arrival countries such as Greece as a convenient parking spot for refugees and migrants. Is that European solidarity? No! I will no longer accept this.”

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