North Aegean Regional Secretary Christiana Kalogirou speaks out on ongoing crisis. "Living conditions do not meet our values," she admits. A local government official said on Wednesday that over 12,000 migrants and refugees remain stranded in the northern Aegean island and are housed in structures built for only 5000.
North Aegean Regional Secretary Christiana Kalogirou made the comments, speaking to Greek national TV channel Skai, joining the chorus of pleas for the Greek government to speed up the transfer of people from the islands to the mainland. "The situation is difficult everywhere across the northern Aegean, with people living in conditions that do not meet our values," Kalogirou said.
The burden on local communities
"The overcrowding of refugees and migrants is putting a huge strain on local communities' morale as well as being a significant financial burden," added Kalogirou."The process of decongesting the islands and speeding up asylum processes, while simultaneously improving current facilities is vital; this needs to happen now so that we do not keep accumulating thousands of requests which will take many months to handle instead of a few weeks, as should be the case." Kalogirou pointed out that the influx of migrants has not stopped, despite the harsh winter weather, adding that since the start of the year, approximately 500 additional refugees have landed on the shores of the northern Aegean islands.
Slow going on mainland transfers
Kalogirou's comments come in the wake of an impassioned appeal to the Greek government by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi last Friday to urgently boost refugee and migrant transfers from the Aegean islands to the mainland.
"Conditions on the Greek islands are getting worse, making life miserable for thousands of people," Grandi said on Twitter."More inland transport [of poeple] is urgently needed." The UN pointed out then that the reception centers are "full of rubbish and improvised accommodation that offer little security against winter weather." Little has changed unfortunately, and the problem is worsening since a total of 507 refugees and migrants have landed on the shores of the North Aegean islands from New Year's Day up until Friday.