Greek Island Lesbos’ population surpassed by refugee numbers
İZMİR – Anadolu Agency
yrian migrants wait in Mythimna on Lesbos island to board a bus which will transport them to Mytilene in a temporary reception center set up by foreign volunteers, after having crossed the Aegean sea from Turkey on an inflatable boat on August 22, 2015. AFP PhotoThe number of unregistered Syrian migrants that have arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos has exceeded the resident population, some 90,000, this year, said Mayor Spyros Galinos, who has suggested official boat or plane routes to save lives.
Before 2015, only around 100 migrants entered the island illegally on average annually. However, this number exceeded 90,000 in the last two months, he said.
“When compared to the population of the island, these illegal entries have created a big problem. However, I believe that big solutions will emerge amid these problems,” the mayor said.
Migrants pay human smugglers around 1,000 euros for a pass, the mayor explained. “But we pay only 15 euros for the same voyage legally,” he said, adding that preventing this illegal trade could hit illegal earnings by smugglers.
“Why cannot [migrants] take a boat or plane and cross to the other side? Let me put a boat route and they can pass via a passenger boat safely. We are doing all we can for them on the island and helping them go wherever they want to,” he said.
The European Union has remained distant to the problem, pinning the burden on Turkey’s and Greece’s shoulder, Galinos also added.