North Aegean Islanders Go on General Strike in Protest Against Migrant Crisis



Thousands gathered in Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesvos this morning. Credit: AMNA

A general strike scheduled weeks ago took place on Wednesday on the islands of the North Aegean region of Greece, which have been the most affected by the refugee and migrant crisis of recent years.

All activities on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos came to a standstill. The municipality of Mytilene’s Tax Bureau was closed, and all the kiosks on the island shuttered their shop windows in solidarity with the islandwide protest.

Several different protests were organized at midday on Wednesday as well.

People were not only protesting against the creation of new migrant facilities on the islands but also demanded a solution to the difficult problems posed by the thousands of economic migrants and refugees who are seeking political asylum there.

Among the islanders’ requests is also the control of non-governmental organizations operating on their islands, as well as better guarding of the borders and support for local communities and their health and security infrastructure.

Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s Minister for Immigration and Asylum, stated that the reaction of the residents of these islands is ”justified.”

“Today the islanders carry a disproportionate burden, and solidarity at European and national level is necessary,” the Minister said. He called for unity, an increased sense of responsibility, and the cooperation of all those responsible to deal with the migration problem in a rational way.