Greece's anti-racism and anti-fascism organization (KEEFA) made an impassioned plea to solidarity groups around the country to unite against the "increased racist and fascist threat" on Lesvos and other Aegean islands due to the intensifying migrant crisis.
KEEFA called on trade unions, student societies and solidarity movements to support the transfer of refugees from the Greek islands to Athens and the mainland area. The organization rejected what they referred to as the migration minister Giannis Mouzalas' "insistence to keep refugees and migrants stuck in the ghettos on the islands."
The latest huge spike in migrant arrivals in Greece on boats from Turkey appears to have caught the government off guard. Thousands have arrived in the past two months in already massively overcrowded camps where living conditions are being described by human rights groups as "abysmal and inhumane". In the last week alone, a total of 1,194 people arrived, adding to the thousands of asylum seekers who have already been trapped in camps for months. This causes protests and scuffles among migrants as well as social unrest among the local populations.
'Time to active the ferry boats'
"Thousands of refugees are now rotting in the inhumane ghettos of the islands; it is time to activate the ferry boats and help them to continue their journey with the first step being to get to the mainland," said KEEFA in a statement. In 2015, many thousands of refugees flooded the Greek islands, especially on Lesvos, with the notorious Moria camp bursting at the seams.
KEEFA said the current escalating situation will give fuel far-right forces like Golden Dawn and result in fascist groups coming to the surface again.
End the 'containment'
The call from KEEFA comes just 24 hours after 19 human rights groups and aid agencies including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Rescue Committee and Oxfam, sent an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling on the Syriza leader to end what they described as the "containment" of asylum seekers on island camps.
According to official estimates, there are now more than 13,000 people, mostly Syrians and Iraqis fleeing war, living in just five camps on the Eastern Aegean islands. Figures show that 40 percent of arrivals are children and 20 percent are women.
"We urge you to put an end to the ongoing 'containment policy' of trapping asylum seekers on the islands... and to immediately transfer asylum seekers to the mainland and meet their protection needs," said the statement. With winter approaching, the situation is feared to get worse, especially on Lesvos, with many migrants staying in tents designed for summer weather, while hundreds of people are sleeping rough on the streets with just blankets as cover. (The picture shows a migrant standing in the so-called hotspot registration centre for refugees in Moria, Lesvos island.Credit: EPA).