Refugees waiting to be registered in the Asylum Service in the identification center in Moria| PHOTO: ARCHIVE/EPA/Panagiotis Balaskas
Refugees waiting to be registered in the Asylum Service in the identification center in Moria| PHOTO: ARCHIVE/EPA/Panagiotis Balaskas

The constant influx of refugees and migrants by boat to the shores of Greece's eastern Aegean islands from Turkey continues at an alarming rate this week, with close to 700 people arriving on Lesbos, Chios, and Samos in the past 48 hours.

According to the latest figures released, a total of 26,600 asylum seekers are being hosted on these three islands, with Lesbos accepting the biggest number. There are over 10,000 people in desperately overcrowded camps living on the small island. This month alone, Lesbos has already received around 2,500 refugees, despite managing to previously transfer 1,400 people to the mainland to be housed in alternative facilities. 

Around another 3,100 are currently staying in camps on Chios, while there are almost 5,000 housed in facilities on Samos.

According to the United Nations, the total number of migrants reached an estimated 272 million this year globally - an increase of 51 million since 2010, with Europe hosting the largest amount of international migrants. 

Greece demands EU help

Greece's migration policy minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, called on the other EU states along the Mediterranean to help convince all EU partners to help them cope with this influx in migrant arrivals. Koumoutsakos said the incoming European Commission's priority should be to forge a new EU migration policy which affords Mediterranean states the opportunity to focus on their own concerns. 

Moria camp three times above capacity

Last week, Giannis Balbakakis, the head of one of Greece's most notoriously overcrowded reception and identification centers in the village of Moria on Lesbos, resigned, stating that he was "worn out" from the ongoing situation.

The Moria camp — a disused military base — currently hosts 10,000 people in a space built to house only 3,000. It has come under constant scrutiny from NGOs and humanitarian organizations for its squalid living conditions. 

Asylum application backlog

Greece is hoping to create additional facilities in various areas on the mainland to ease the burden placed on the islands. With its current systems and infrastructure, Greece's Migration Policy Ministry recently conceded that the country only had the capacity to process around 20,000 asylum applications each year, whereas the number of applications received in 2018 alone was a massive 67,000. 
 

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