The mayors and residents of Greece's Eastern Aegean islands Lesvos, Chios and Samos descended on Athens on Tuesday and staged a protest outside the Migration Ministry over the state's handling of the ongoing migrant crisis.
Hundreds of local residents joined the mayors of Lesvos, Chios and Samos in protesting the worsening situation on their respective islands, with refugee camps desperately overcrowded. They are calling on the state to relieve the increasing pressure and fast-track procedures to transfer people to the mainland while their asylum applications are evaluated.
"The government and the European Union, in spite of the clear and resounding message sent by the people of Lesvos with its general strike and its gathering at the end of November, showed no response, resulting in the situation remaining the same without any substantial effort to decongest the migrant numbers on the islands," said the mayor of Lesvos Spyros Galinos. Living conditions on the islands for migrants have reached rock bottom, and the worsening winter weather is only exacerbating the situation, with human rights organizations accusing the government of operating a "containment policy" while putting migrants lives at risk with squalid living conditions widespread.
More than 15,000 stranded
According to the latest figures, there are a grand total of 15,486 people stranded on the islands. A total of 67 boats arrived on Greek shores during November, carrying a 3175 people. Although it is much less than the previous month with 112 boats carrying 4116 people recorded in October - there is still a huge backlog of people and severe lack of space, facilities and shelter. "We need a solution now, we can't take any more people. The migrants feel trapped, and we feel threatened!" were the chants and banners that could be heard and seen around the Migration Ministry during the peaceful protest.The islanders released a statement which called on the government to act immediately and carry out the following: Immediate and substantial decongestion of all migrant reception facilities, not to create any new structures, including the use of floating facilities, and not make any decisions without the consent of islanders, which may endanger human lives, social cohesion and the future of the islands." According to the data of Ministry of the Interior, Immigration policy, the total number of enclaved refugees and immigrants on the island amounts to 2.656 people, with 2.385 residing in VIAL.
Migrant child attempts suicide
The situation in some places is worse than desperate, especially for minors and women, who according to human rights group HRW (human rights watch) "live in constant fear".There was some devastating news on Sunday when 9-year-old tried to commit suicide at the Vial camp in Chios.Local newspaper Politis Chios said that the boy, who is from Syria, tried to hang himself using the sleeve of his blouse as an improvised noose. Fortunately, he was saved at the last minute by a fellow migrant and was immediately taken to the Skylitzio hospital.Currently, 2,350 refugees are staying in the overcrowded Vial camp, which only has an official capacity for 850 people. Most of them are sleeping in summer pop-up tents.