Refugees sit in the section for families in the Identification Center of Moria, Lesbos Island, Greece Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou
Refugees sit in the section for families in the Identification Center of Moria, Lesbos Island, Greece Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou

After violent fighting between migrants at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last week, the local mayor has criticized the government's failure to move 900 Kurdish migrants out of the camp into alternative accommodation. Six people were injured in the fights between Kurdish and Arab migrants.

The fights that broke out last Friday prompted 900 asylum-seeking Kurds to leave and refuse to return and be housed with Arabs. While many fled and are said to be scattered around the eastern Aegean island, around 450 of them are staying at the Pikpa makeshift camp, which is run by the NGO Lesvos Solidarity. A further 250 are taking shelter at the UN-run camp in Skala Sykamnias and the Lersos camp, where NGO Humans for Humanity are also helping refugees.

Lesbos mayor, Spyros Galinos, who is under constant pressure from local residents to find solutions to the ongoing migrant crisis as the tourist season gets into full swing, sent an open letter of protest to Greece's Minister for Migration Policy, Dimitris Vitsas. "I would like to express my utmost protest about the installation of the hundreds of asylum seekers in a private area located in the Larsos area on the Mytilini - Kalloni National Road as well as in the former PIKPA camps near Mytilene airport," Galinos said. "Such unilateral actions without any information provided contradict ... the will of the local community," he added.

Galinos, who has clashed with state officials on multiple occasions in recent weeks, said Lesbos has a "specific and limited capacity" and no additional structures should be created. He said any overflows or problems must be handled centrally and by the transfer of refugees from Lesbos to the mainland, adding "This is why I call for the immediate closure of these areas and your own actions to address the overcrowding of asylum seekers." 

Finally, Galinos revealed that he had filed a petition with the Prosecutor of the First Instance of Lesbos for the protection of peace and social cohesion. "Unfortunately, such actions from the government not only shake our confidence in you, but also force us to take drastic actions to protect the local community, which is truly worried and struggling to cope." 

Numbers continue to grow 

Greece's ongoing migrant crisis shows few signs of abating, with authorities particularly in the eastern Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos struggling to decongest the overcrowded camps as more people arrive. With transfers to the mainland still slow, Greece has appealed to the European Union for more funding to create accommodation.

According to local reports in Greece, the Migration Policy Ministry is expecting a response from the EU by mid-June, with negotiations said to be ongoing. Latest official figures show that over 10,700 migrants and refugees have landed on Greek shores so far this year, while in total there are an estimated 60,000 asylum seekers stranded in camps or alternative accommodation throughout the country.

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