Greece’s Migrant Crisis: “A Powder Keg Ready to Explode”
by Soeren Kern • February 28, 2020:
- “People have seen their properties destroyed, their sheep and goats have been slaughtered, their homes broken into. A few years back, when there were 5,000 migrants on the island, things seemed bad enough. Now there’s a sense that the situation has really got out of hand.” — Nikos Trakellis, community leader in Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos.
- “I fear for the safety of our people, the residents of Lesbos. For the situation to change, many refugees have to be transferred to the mainland and new arrivals from Turkey must be stopped. If not, we are doomed.” — North Aegean Regional Governor Kostas Moutzouris.
- “Welcome in Greece are only those we choose. Those who are not welcome will be returned. We will permanently shut the door to illegal human traffickers, to those who want to enter even though they are not entitled to asylum.” — Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
- Greek officials have said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally controls the migration flows to Greece and turns them on and off to extract more money and other political concessions from the European Union.
- Turkey, which currently hosts nearly four million Syrian refugees, has said it cannot handle a new influx. It has repeatedly threatened to re-open the floodgates of mass migration to Europe.A plan by the Greek government to build new migrant camps on five Aegean islands has sparked violent opposition from local residents, who fear that the facilities will encourage yet more mass migration from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Pictured: Riot police on the Greek island of Lesbos face locals who are protesting against the construction of a new migrant camp, on February 26, 2020. (Photo by Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
A plan by the Greek government to build new migrant camps on five Aegean islands has sparked violent opposition from local residents, who fear that the facilities will encourage yet more mass migration from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The government says that the new camps, expected to be operational by July 2020, are needed to alleviate overcrowding at other locations that have been the focus of international criticism. Local residents counter that the migrants should be transferred to mainland Greece.
On February 25, more than 500 locals prevented construction workers from accessing the site of a proposed new migrant camp at Karava Mantamadou on Lesbos. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds.
Similar clashes occurred on Chios, a large Greek island located less than 20 kilometers from Turkey, from where tens of thousands of migrants depart each year in hopes of eventually reaching mainland Europe.
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