Refugee camps on the Greek islands are full well beyond capacity | Photo: picture-alliance/ANE
Refugee camps on the Greek islands are full well beyond capacity | Photo: picture-alliance/ANE

The Greek migration ministry has said that fewer than 5,400 migrants are now living in the once overcrowded and unhygienic camps on the Greek Aegean Islands. In April 2020, around 40,000 people were in the camps.

The figure from the Greek migration ministry includes those on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos in August. In June, the number stood at 7,700.

According to UN refugee agency UNHCR, nearly half of the population hails from Afghanistan (48%), followed by Syria (13%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (10%). Roughly one in five people are female. Children, nearly seven out of ten children of whom are younger than 12 years old, account for close to one third of the population.

Read more: Afghan refugees in Greece still stuck in limbo

At the peak in April 2020, around 40,000 people were staying in the island camps, sometimes in horrific conditions that prompted international outrage. Most of the remaining migrants are now living in the Mavrovouni camp, usually referred to as the new Kara Tepe camp, on Lesbos. Currently, 3,400 people are there. The camp has a capacity of 8,000 people.

Transfers to the mainland

On Samos, the camp on the outskirts of the capital now houses 612 migrants. Only a few months ago, six times more people were living there. Its capacity is 650 people. 

Around 500 people also live in the camps on Kos, Leros and Chios. On these islands, according to dpa, almost 1,000 migrants live in smaller shelters run by aid organizations or in flats.

In recent months, Greece has transferred thousands of migrants likely to be granted asylum to the mainland. They include pregnant women, older or sick people as well as children.

At the same time, Greece has been tightening surveillance over its maritime borders. Some aid organizations have accused Greece of illegally returning potential asylum seekers to Turkey, a practice known as pushbacks.

The Greek government, however, argues that it is protecting its own national borders, which are also EU borders. Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis has repeatedly stressed that there will be no more chaotic situations like the one in 2015, when more than 850,000 migrants arrived in Greece from Turkey on their way to central Europe.

With dpa


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