After a tersely worded ultimatum was issued from the government of Greece’s North Aegean region that demanded immediate action be taken to clean up the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, preparations to send up to 3,000 migrants to the Greek mainland are now being put into motion.
According to what an EU source told New Europe on September 17, after repeated calls for the EU executive’s “Plan B” on the evacuation of the overcrowded camp, “the European Commission, having repeatedly alerted the Greek authorities about the very challenging situation at (the) Moria (camp) has discussed and the urgent need to address this situation and, as always, ensured the availability of EU funds to help face the challenges. The Commission is also offering its support to transfer vulnerable applicants to the mainland to help ease the pressure on the island.”
According to the data available, over 32,000 at-risk refugees have been transferred to the mainland with the support of the UNHCR, EU funding or own means.
“More than 3,000 migrants whose geographic restrictions have been lifted are expected to leave the islands for the mainland – the Commission is hoping to accelerate this process,” the EU source told New Europe ahead of European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos’ visit to Athens later in the week.
The Commissioner is expected to discuss matters concerning the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement during his meeting with the Greek authorities.
Greece has born the brunt of Europe’s refugee crisis with over 60,000 migrants still stuck in refugee camps across the country. Aid organisations estimate that more than a million and a half migrants have illegally crossed into Europe since the summer of 2015, the majority of which used Greece as their entry point into the European Union.