Visiting Mytilene, the main town on the island of Lesvos, Greek Migration Policy Minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou underlined that a way must be found to “evacuate” the island of the hordes of migrants and refugees arriving there on a daily basis from the nearby Turkish coast.
According to the minister, who arrived in Mytilene late on Thursday night with SYRIZA MP Vasiliki Katrivanou and other associates, the situation she met was one of “shame for human civilization, Greece and its traditions.”
The minister took part in a meeting at the General Secretariat for the Aegean and Island Policy on Friday afternoon, where it was decided that Mytilene’s port will stop being used by the coast guard as a temporary detention area for arriving migrants and that they will be transferred to a currently underworking reception facility on the island at Moria.
Earlier, Northern Aegean Region governor Christina Kalogeropoulou had relayed the complaints of cruise operators and travel agencies about the spectacle presented at Mytilene’s port, warning that they would stop visiting the island if the port continued to be used as a temporary detention center.
In comments on the situation, the minister said she had been “marked” by the sight of an 81-year-old woman in a wheelchair surrounded by members of her family, as well as a group of unaccompanied children aged between six and eight years old, whose parents were missing and unaccounted for.
On Friday she visited the island’s port and then facilities at an old army camp that had been converted into a reception and transit center, where she found that a large part was currently not in operation due chiefly to bureaucratic reasons and a lack of “basic organization” on the part of those in charge.
The minister announced plans to use former municipal police — if they did not wish to use an option to return to their previous jobs afforded under a recent law — in order to man asylum and reception facilities on the Greek islands. There is also a plan for emergency hiring due to the urgent needs created by the flow of migrants and refugees arriving from the Turkish coast, especially on Lesvos, Greece.
Christodoulopoulou later met with groups in Mytilene involved in the reception and care of the refugees and migrants.