With thousands of people waiting to be registered on the eastern Greek island of Lesbos, the mayor on Wednesday called for a state of emergency to be declared. Lesbos has been one of the main points of entry for people fleeing war-torn nations like Iraq and Syria because of its proximity to Turkey.
More than 200,000 refugees and economic migrants have entered Greece since January, and the number of daily arrivals has increased throughout the summer. Lesbos has averaged over 1,000 refugees per day throughout the summer and has been averaging almost 4,000 per day in the past week.
The majority of people arriving to Lesbos have not wanted to stay there because of Greece's debt crisis, which has kept job opportunities minimal. Most refugees wanted to make a life for themselves in northern European countries, especially Germany, the United Kingdom and several Nordic countries.
The port of Lesvos again has 4,000 people trying to be registered, trying to leave pic.twitter.com/RYZOb6xmmu
— Kate O'Sullivan (@KateOSully) September 3, 2015
Lesbos Mayor Spyros Galinos called on the Greek government to intervene Wednesday and declare the situation a state of emergency. A large chunk of the money that has gone to refugee care has come out of the municipal budget of the small island, and the local government has repeatedly said the funds were not sustainable. The Greek island had more refugees than residents as of Thursday.
“Last night, thousands of refugees slept rough in the middle of the main port in Mytilene, and we are very worried by reports that the police have stopped registering refugees," Kirk Day, Greece's director for the International Rescue Committee, said Thursday. The committee is a non-profit that has been giving emergency assistance in the Mediterranean. "With thousands desperate to leave Lesbos, any suspension in registrations is likely to result in a rapidly deteriorating situation and subsequent rise in tensions," Day said.