Greek island goes on strike over refugee crisis

Nearly a 1,000 people on Lesbos, including its mayor, protest EU, Greek policies on asylum seekers 

Greek island goes on strike over refugee crisis

World Bulletin / News Desk

Public institutions suspended services and many shops did not open as a one-day strike in Greece's Lesbos island over the refugee crisis took place on Monday.

The Aegean island off the coast of Turkey has become the landing point for thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and conflict, particularly amid the Syrian Civil War.

Nearly a thousand people, including the mayor and local representative, gathered in the island's Sappho square on Monday to protest Greek government and the EU policies on asylum-seekers. 

The protesters carried banners and posters reading: "Lesbos is not a place of exile, it is an island," and "Urgent solution to the refugee crisis."

"We have been shouldering the refugee burden for three years for the sake of Greece and Europe. If a fault is sought, it should be sought in Athens and Brussels, not in Lesbos," Spiros Galinosi, the mayor, told the crowd.

"The [refugee] density on the islands must be reduced urgently. Asylum seekers should be placed on the mainland as soon as possible. We do not want to hear another solution," he added.

According to latest figures, more than 15,000 asylum seekers on Greek islands are waiting for a decision; nearly 8,000 of those are living in 3,500-capacity Lesbos.

Besides the lack of places, the migrants are also facing tough winter conditions.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency last month, UN spokesman Boris Cheshirkov said more than 3,000 migrants on Lesbos, Chios, and Samos islands had been sleeping in camping tents not suitable for winter.

Earlier in October, the UN’s refugee agency urged the Greek authorities to accelerate winter preparations on the islands.

The UNHCR said many refugees in state-run camps were living "in small tents and shelters unsuitable for the winter".

The agency said the Greek authorities should ensure adequate shelters and distribute winter aid items as "conditions are quickly deteriorating amid increased arrivals while the harsh, rainy and cold weather is expected".

*Ilker Girit contributed to this story from Istanbul.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Kasım 2017, 00:51