Following the arrival of thousands of migrants to the islands in the east of the Aegean, the Greek government now wants to remove more than 10,000 illegal immigrants from local refugee camps to the mainland. This was decided after a meeting between the Minister for Citizen Protection, of Greece Michalis Chrysohoides and the governors of 13 regions of Greece.
“There is no other way. Some islands have more migrants than residents. We must act now and accept people”, – said Panagiotis Nikas, Governor of the Peloponnese Peninsula, on Greek television after the meeting.
By April, the number of migrants living on the islands had dropped to 14,000. However, since then more and more migrants have arrived. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 8,103 migrants arrived to the islands in August. More than 29,000 migrants currently live on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos. This is the largest number of migrants living on the islands since the entry into force of the Refugee Pact between the EU and Turkey in March 2016.
The EU-Turkey refugee Pact stipulates that the EU must return all refugees and migrants arriving illegally on the Greek Islands through Turkey. However, due to lack of staff, the processing of asylum applications on the Greek Islands is too slow.