Commissioner Avramopoulos and mayors discuss how to decongest Aegean islands of refugees

European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos on Friday met with the mayors of the five eastern Aegean islands worst affected by the refugee and migrant crisis, at the offices of the European Parliament in Athens. They discussed the options for a rapid improvement of the situation on the islands in the eastern Aegean as a result of refugee flows.

The mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros said the meeting was constructive and noted the need to quickly decongest the islands ahead of the tourism season, especially of the more vulnerable groups and the delinquent elements that create insecurity among island inhabitants. They also requested a social and economic growth programme to offset the damages the islands have suffered due to the migration flows.

Avramopoulos noted that the recent harsh weather highlighted some shortcomings and asked the UN High Commission for
Refugees to immediately install the winterised accommodation that has already been financed by the European Commission.

He also asked for coordinators on the islands to take up their duties “without delay” and work with local authorities, while discussing all possible initiatives for supporting the islands, including financial support measures, with the Greek government.

Handling the migration crisis was a European and national challenge that superseded party differences, Avramopoulos said, noting that the EU-Turkey Statement on migration must be observed and accelerated. He also invited the five mayors to visit Brussels next month.