Is­lands want steps to deal with in­flux of mi­grants

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As the in­flux of mi­grants from neigh­bor­ing Turkey con­tin­ues – with a slight but not­i­ca­ble in­crease – re­gional au­thor­i­ties and tourism pro­fes­sion­als are call­ing for mea­sures to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties on the Aegean is­lands.

Over the past two weeks, fol­low­ing a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, the in­flux of mi­grants has in­creased, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures. Over­all, more than 1,000 mi­grants landed on the five so-called hot spots: Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros since the failed coup. Those is­lands are now ac­com­mo­dat­ing 9,313 mi­grants in camps, many of whom have been there for sev­eral months await­ing the out­come of asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions or de­por­ta­tion.

In a let­ter to Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy Min­is­ter Yian­nis Mouza­las and Al­ter­nate De­fense Min­is­ter Dim­itris Vit­sas, the gov­er­nor of the north­ern Aegean re­gion, Chris­tiana Kalo­girou, asked for im­me­di­ate steps to de­con­gest the is­lands. “We are see­ing a con­stant and ap­par­ently in­creas­ing flow of mi­grants and refugees to­ward the is­lands of the north­ern Aegean,” she wrote, not­ing that the max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of state re­cep­tion cen­ters has been ex­ceeded on all the is­lands.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of an aid agency work­ing on Lesvos said that the in­crease in mi­grant ar­rivals on the is­land has not yet fu­elled ten­sions in the camps. “But if they keep ar­riv­ing at the same rate, we’ll have a prob­lem soon,” ac­cord­ing to the worker who asked not to be iden­ti­fied.

Mean­while, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Hel­lenic Tourism En­ter­prises (SETE) and the Hel­lenic Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pro­fes­sion­als, Crafts­men and Mer­chants (GSEVEE) met yes­ter­day with of­fi­cials from the af­fected is­lands to dis­cuss the im­pact of in­creased mi­grant ar­rivals on tourism. Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures sup­plied by lo­cal air­ports, for­eign char­ter flights to Lesvos and Chios were down by 65 per­cent and 40 per­cent this month com­pared to July last year, re­spec­tively. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of busi­nesses on the is­lands have asked the gov­ern­ment for “off­set­ting mea­sures” to boost busi­nesses that have been hit by a slump in tourism and to help em­ploy­ees with less sum­mer work by low­er­ing the num­ber of so­cial se­cu­rity stamps they need to qual­ify for unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits in the win­ter.

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