Shops and public services remained closed today in the islands of the North and East Aegean, while in the afternoon mass gatherings were organized at the islands’ capitals. Racist chants were heard even by officials, while organizations and workers’ unions highlighted that the democratic citizens opposed the closed detention centers as well as the xenophobic slurs.
The region, bodies and union representatives in Lesvos, Chios and Samos have announced two-day mobilizations on the refugee issue, with the main demand being the depressurization of their islands. Indeed, the participation of citizens and actors has been large. On Thursday, the North Aegean Mayors and the Regional Governor will travel to Athens to deliver a relevant resolution by the residents of the islands to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and then stage a protest in front of the Parliament requesting a meeting with the leaders of the main opposition. It is worth noting that the Regional Governor and most of the mayors belong to New Democracy.
The Government has come face to face with its pre-election declarations that are steadily dissolving, in which it systematically claimed that it was SYRIZA’s policy that was causing the migration flows and the flooding of the islands, while it was promising immediate relief and flow restrictions with better border guard. Instead, flows have increased since then, causing suffocation in the existing island structures.
It is noteworthy that at the Reception and Identification Center of Lesvos in Moria there were about five thousand at the beginning of the summer, whereas now there are more than fifteen thousand. Meanwhile, the cases of bad communication on a governmental level have fueled reactions, since after six months and the abolition of the Ministry of Migration Policy alongside the constant shifting of responsibility to different persons, Kyriakos Mitsotakis proceeded to the re-establishment of the Ministry, while the depressurization plans remain on paper. In addition, strong protests have prompted the announcement of the creation of closed detention centers on the islands, something about which European officials have also expressed concern.
Minister for Immigration: The indignation is understandable
The Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, described the citizens’ indignation as “justified”, stressing that “they take on a disproportionate burden; solidarity at European and national level is necessary”. The ministry’s main objective was again stated to be the reduction of flows, which would be achieved “through increased border patrol, speeding up asylum procedures, increased returns and closed pre-departure centers”, accelerating returns and transporting to the inland those who receive asylum or belong to vulnerable populations”.
SYRIZA: New Democracy addresses the refugee issue through xenophobia and racism
“New Democracy, when serving as main opposition, had chosen to pour more fuel to the fire by exploiting the residents’ just concern; by lying, making promises, while targeting SYRIZA”, the main opposition associations in the North and Central Aegean note in a joint statement. As they point out, the SYRIZA administration was addressing the refugee-migration issue on the basis of the law and the solidarity of the Greek people; on the contrary, under New Democracy, the issue “is being handled on the basis of xenophobia and racism”.
In fact, SYRIZA denounces the government of New Democracy for insisting on the creation of huge closed detention centers on the islands, “with the general detention of even vulnerable groups” that “comes in direct violation of European and international law and leads to explosive situations that produce no outcome”. The party underlines that the disrespect of the ecumenical rejection by local communities “is provocative and is a tangible example of the way New Democracy understands and what respect it shows for local communities “. /ibna