As tens of thousands of illegal immigrants continue to enter Europe after crossing by boat from Turkey, Greece said it will call on the European Union to impose sanctions on member states that refuse to accept their share of new arrivals.
A group of central and eastern E.U. nations including Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic have all opposed mandatory E.U. relocation quotas for refugees — an action Greece’s new conservative government says puts an unfair burden on border member states like Greece, Spain, and Italy.
“I will say this clearly: I will raise the issue of specific sanctions for European countries that refuse to take part in a fair distribution of refugees on a European level,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday.
“It is an act of hypocrisy,” he added. “You cannot enjoy the benefits of (border-free travel and trade) and not accept 1,000 or 2,000 refugees as part of EU management of the issue.”
A summer spike in arrivals of migrants and refugees from Turkey has overwhelmed the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios, who already find their migrant reception centres becoming increasingly overcrowded. In just one month, Lesbos received 2,700 migrants, according to one local newspaper.
Other islands, such as Samos, are in even worse situations with one migrant reception centre meant to house just 650 people currently home to over 4,000, as Breitbart News reported.
Leader of Greek Island Community Warns Residents Angry Over Migration May Take Law ‘Into Their Own Hands’ https://t.co/uYuqB3k0ms
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 1, 2018
E.U. migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer were in Turkey and then traveled on to Greece Friday, as European officials look to restart of deportations from Greece to Turkey of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected or are not in need of international protection.
“Irregular arrivals to Greece increased over the past weeks and months,” Avramopoulos said. “There is an urgent need to further strengthen the prevention and detection of irregular departures from Turkey.”
Around 22,700 migrants are estimated to be living on the various Greek islands in the Aegean, with 42 percent coming from Afghanistan and just 11 percent from Syria.
AP contributed to this story