5000 migrants a day crossed Aegean into Greece in past week – IOM
Over the past week, the International Organisation for Migration – Greece estimates that more than 5000 migrants and refugees a day have crossed the Aegean Sea into Greece, IOM said on September 4 2015.
The largest group are Syrians, followed by Afghans. They mainly include men, families with children, and minors accompanied by close relatives. Many of the families, especially the Afghans, include pregnant women and new-borns.
According to IOM staff, on August 31 on the island of Kos, the Hellenic Police estimated that there were 4000 migrants on the island – of whom 2000 had yet to be identified.
The authorities and civil society were trying to provide basic services, including health care and food. But tensions were rising between the Kos authorities and the central government, with the local authorities making it clear that they lack the resources to support all the new arrivals, IOM said.
The municipality has withdrawn its offer of Kos’ stadium to provide temporary accommodation for the migrants. Many Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Egyptians are now being housed at an abandoned hotel – the “Captain Elias”. Many Syrians are opting for alternative accommodation, according to IOM staff on the island.
IOM Greece staff on Kos are working with the local authorities to identify and co-ordinate assistance to the most vulnerable migrants. They are also distributing bottled mineral water and food to the migrants on arrival.
On Monday, on the island of Lesvos, there were an estimated 4750 people at the Moria screening centre, which normally processes 600 to 900 people a day. Some of them were waiting to be registered by the police, others were waiting for their documentation, and the remainder were waiting for relatives and friends to be released in order for them to continue their journey. With processing times now reaching five to six days, people are camped outside the centre in tents and sleeping bags bought from local vendors.
Tensions at the centre are also rising, IOM said. Last week, a female police officer was injured when distributing police documentation to migrants about to be released. Another group of migrants waiting to be processed and frustrated by the delay rushed forward. The officer suffered a broken finger and minor injuries.
The number of migrant deaths in the Aegean is also steadily increasing. On August 29, in an incident involving the Hellenic Coast Guard and smugglers off the coast of Symi, a young refugee boy lost his life. A Turkish smuggler and an officer of the Greek Port Police were also seriously injured.
On Monday, a 47-year-old Somali mother of two children died at the Moria Center in Lesvos. She had been hospitalised for a week, but was subsequently released. She died of a heart attack during the registration procedure, despite efforts by Médecins Du Monde doctors to save her. Her children were present at the time of her death and her funeral took place on Lesvos.
On September 3, IOM’s head of office in Greece, Daniel Esdras, met with Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos to brief him on the migration situation and IOM’s activities in the country.
IOM said that it was working closely with the Greek Ministry of Interior, the Alternate Ministry of Public Order and Citizens Protection, the Alternate Ministry of Migration Policy, the Hellenic Police and Hellenic Coast Guard, the Asylum Service and the First Reception Service.
Meanwhile, in Italy on September 3, a ship brought 91 migrants and one corpse to Lampedusa. The 91 are the survivors of a shipwreck. The number of missing migrants is still unknown.
A Nigerian woman also gave birth to a child on board a coastguard ship that brought 106 migrants to Lampedusa. Mother and baby were reported to be doing well.
(Archive photo: The Italian Coast Guard rescues migrants bound for Italy. © Francesco Malavolta/IOM 2014)