Source: Lesbos (Greece) – France Press
The islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios, which house large numbers of refugee camps, began a general strike during which public services stopped, at a time when protesters gathered in the main squares waving Greek flags, holding a banner reading “We demand the immediate closure of Moria camp.”
Distribution of asylum seekers
“We want to restore our islands, we want to restore our lives,” protesters raised a slogan of protest, while a resident of Lesbos Evestratius Papas, 72, said: “Asylum seekers must be distributed all over Greece,” calling on Europe to shoulder its responsibilities and take refugees.
“We cannot walk outside after dark. People are being stabbed.”
In turn, 17 human rights organizations warned, on Tuesday, of the growing atmosphere of “discrimination and hatred of foreigners” towards asylum seekers who face extremely difficult conditions in the “welfare and public health”.
For their part, local officials vehemently opposed the idea of creating a new camp, noting that they wanted to build smaller facilities after accommodating thousands of asylum seekers over the past five years.
19 thousand immigrants
Moorea, the largest of the Lesbos Islands, hosts more than 19,000 asylum-seekers, although the camp can only accommodate 2,840 refugees. The situation is also critical in other islands.
And the Greek government announced last November plans to build larger camps in the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, which currently have about 42,000 migrants and refugees.
These camps witness frequent acts of violence, including asylum seekers being stabbed in quarrels in the Mooriya camp this month, and an 18-year-old Afghan girl was seriously injured in a knife attack this week. Three asylum seekers detained in other parts of Greece have also recently committed suicide.
Crossing point to Europe
Last year, migrants and refugees took Greece as a major transit point for travel to Europe, fleeing war or poverty in Syria and sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, more than 55,000 people have reached Greece by sea and more than 14,000 across the land border with Turkey.
The competent authorities allowed a small number of these to cross into the Greek mainland while the rest were forced to remain for months in the camps pending the determination of their asylum applications.