18 September 2015

The UN has estimated that some 30,000 refugees are on Greek islands, of which 20,000 reside on Lesvos. According to the authorities in Lesvos, the island receives approximately 2,000 irregular migrants and refugees per day, placing it as an area receiving some of the highest migration flows.

According to the latest news from Mytilene, on Monday 7 September, 29,260 people departed from the island to the mainland of Greece. It is expected that the Tara Tepe park will be assigned as  an identification centre for Syrians, while migrants of other nationalities will be identified and hosted in the first reception centre of Moria.

In the meantime, the mayor of Lesvos has submitted a comprehensive proposal for the management of refugees and irregular migrants arriving in Europe. The structure of the proposal, which was addressed to both Greek and European stakeholders, indicates three different pillars of action;  local level, national level and  European level. At the local level it calls for the equitable distribution of migrant/refugee arrivals and a faster processing of applications by means of regional registration centres situated near the arrival points.. Additionally, it provides for the distribution of newcomers to the registration centres and, following completion of this procedure, for bus transfers to the ports of Sigri or Mytilene. At the national level it aims at achieving a high daily registration number by strengthening the local services (police and the coast guard), together with the assistance of personnel from other services. At the European level, the aim is for the screening of people in need of international protection, leading to their safe entry into the EU.. This will be achieved mainly by establishing registration centres in Turkey, by providing refugees with the possibility of choosing their means of transportation and by relocating people to other EU countries.

Following the numerous incidents of refugees drowning in the Aegean Sea, a series of reports in newspapers indicates that the Greek-Turkish land border is now favoured by increasing numbers of refugees. A Facebook group called ‘Crossing No More’, numbering thousands of members, mainly from Iraq and Syria, are expressing their desire to reach Europe by land, thus avoiding the so called ‘boats of death’.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 18 September 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.