September 2015 – GREECE – The Greek island of Lesbos is “on the verge of explosion” with the arrival of more than 15,000 mainly Syrian asylum seekers pushing local resources to the limit, the immigration minister said. Yiannis Mouzalas said that boats taking asylum seekers to the Greek mainland would soon be using a second port to ease pressure on the island of 85,000 inhabitants. “Mytilene currently has 15,000 to 17,000 refugees and this is the official figure from all services,” Mr Mouzalas said. “We are placing emphasis here because the situation is on the verge of explosion.” The minister said the second departure point would open at the fishing village of Sygri in coming days.
Lesbos is one of several Greek islands struggling with an influx of thousands of migrants, many of them Syrian refugees, setting sail from the nearby Turkish coast. “We hope that in the next five days the [islanders] and the refugees will see clear signs of improvement,” he said. Kate O’Sullivan, a communications officer from Save the Children’s emergency response unit, recently ABC’s The World program that the vast majority of asylum seekers arriving in Lesbos were landing in Lesbos with the intention of heading further into Europe. “Everybody I speak to, most of them want to move on [to other European countries], they’re very aware that Greece has an economic crisis,” she said. “They’re not looking to impose themselves, they’re just seeking a better life.”
There have been clashes on Lesbos in recent days between police and migrants, and between migrants of different nationalities, over delays in the registration process that have held up their journeys on to other countries in Europe. Syrians have been granted priority in the registration process, sparking tensions with other migrants forced into long waits on the island. More than 230,000 people have landed on Greek shores this year, with the numbers soaring in recent weeks as people seek to take advantage of the calm summer weather. –ABC News