Despite heightened patrols in the Aegean Sea to deter smuggling activity between Turkey and Greece, about 3,700 refugees reached Greek shores in August, and about 400 new arrivals have been recorded per week so far this month.
The recent spike in arrivals is mainly credited to seasonal weather patterns and calm seas, but some monitors on both sides of the Aegean have said the liberation of areas controlled by the “Islamic State” (IS) in Syria and Iraq may also be a factor, as new refugees arrive in Turkey and head directly to Greece.
Though the current crossings are not comparable to the 10,000-people-per-day rates seen at the height of the EU refugee crisis back in 2015, recorded arrivals have been high enough in recent weeks to cause concern among aid groups.
They report hazardous overcrowding in reception centers on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Leros.
Since the end of July, the number of people seeking asylum in Samos has almost doubled. The island’s sole reception center is designed for 700 inhabitants, but is currently hosting about 2,200 people, including 600 minors.
Due to lack of space, new arrivals are pitching tents around the camp’s periphery and about 200 people have sought accommodation from charities and religious groups operating on the island.