Lesvos mayor prevents freighter from unloading huts for Moria hotspot

Municipal authorities in Mytilene, the main town on the island of Lesvos, on Monday stopped a freighter from unloading 50 container huts bound for the refugee and migrant hotspot in Moria at the island’s port.

Municipality rubbish trucks blocked the ship’s cargo doors and the island’s mayor Spiros Galinos, along with deputy mayors, city councillors, Moria community chief and local residents, came and stood in front of the ship, preventing the huts from being unloaded.

The police and coast guard sent a strong force to intervene, led by the local police and coast guard chiefs, but the mayor was adamant that facilities at the hotspots cannot expand by even one place without the consent of local citizens and organisations.

“We will not allow Lesvos to be converted from an island of humanity and solidarity into an island prison,” Galinos said.

In statements to the Athens-Macedonian New Agency (ANA), the mayor stressed that these demands, which the islanders had presented to Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a few days earlier, were “specific and will not change, nor will we negotiate them.”

“They are: the immediate and substantial decongestion of all hospitality structures, no creation of any type of new structure, including by the use of floating means, no acceptance of decisions made without the island’s inhabitants that endanger human lives, social cohesion and the future of the country,” he said.

Both the government and the European Union had not responded to Lesvos’ strong message of protest, expressed through a general strike and rally at the end of November, and nothing had changed, while the numbers now departing did not indicate a serious desire to reduce the problem for the island, Galinos added.