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Rise in number of migrants crossing the Aegean

Lesvos is not the only East Aegean Island under stress by the wave of migration

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07 September 2017

Migrant reception centres on Greek Islands are facing increased pressure, as the number of refugees crossing the Aegean sea by boat is on the rise.

According to the Greek authorities, 1,092 people had arrived to Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros since 28 August. As the Ministry of Migration pointed out, during the weekend alone, 576 migrants arrived on Greek shores from Turkey, most of them landing on Lesvos, 29 on Chios and 159 on Samos.

This surge increased the migrant population at Lesvos island's hotspot to 3,7878, even though it has a capacity for 2,300 people. Lesvos is not the only East Aegean Island under stress by the wave of migration. Samos is also overcrowded; its hotspot was designed to host 700 people instead of the 2,369 who are stranded there for months.

What's more concerning is that boats have also arrived to other islands, which lack the appropriate designed spaces for the identification and temporary lodgement of them. But even in islands with adequate infrastructure, overcrowding often results to tensions, mostly between groups of refugees of different ethnicities.

This occured last weekend in Samos, where a clash between Syrian and Iraqi migrants led to five of them being hospitalised with knife wounds, Kathimerini reports.

Despite these events, the Greek authorities stress out that there is no cause of particular concern, as this increase in arrivals is similar to what happened during the same period last year.

What is concerning though, is the fact that there seems to be a freeze in the implementation of the Turkey - EU agreement signed in March 2016, which sees the return of migrant populations to Turkey. This has not happened for the last two months.

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