The mayors of the five Greek islands hardest hit by the refugee crisis met on Friday in Athens with the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos and discussed the refugee crisis and how it has affected their communities.
The five mayors, Spyros Galinos (Lesvos), Michalis Angelopoulos (Samos), Manolis Vournous (Chios), Yiorgos Kyritsis (Kos), Michalis Kolias (Leros) requested from the Commissioner the immediate decongestion of the islands in view of the tourism season, especially from vulnerable migrant and refugee groups and individuals with delinquent behaviour who “create insecurity among residents”.
“The recent unexpectedly harsh weather conditions have exposed the needs that have to be addressed as a matter of urgency”, Commissioner Avramopoulos said, adding that winterised shelters, already funded by the European Commission, have to urgently be installed by the UNHCR.
Avramopoulos said that the coordinators on the islands had to immediately take over their tasks and cooperate with the local authorities.
“All means to alleviate the pressure from the islands including measures of financial support have to be discussed with the Greek government”.
“The implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement has to be accelerated and measures to enhance security on the islands have to be taken”, he added.
He reassured the mayors that the European Commission stands by Greece and its islands — as it stands by other affected countries — and he expressed the Commission’s gratitude to the inhabitants of the islands who have shown “enormous altruism and humanity” since the beginning of the migratory crisis.
Commissioner Avramopoulos invited the five Greek mayors to Brussels in one month from now to take stock of the progress on the ground.
The five mayors are expected to meet today with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras whilst also planning meetings with leaders of other Greek political parties.