Greek island refugee camp too crowded to house newcomers

International News

FILE – In this Wednesday, March 15, 2017 file photo, migrants walk at the Moria refugee detention center on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. Authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 say they are no longer able to house migrants arriving from nearby Turkey after a reception camp there had exceeded its capacity by 400%. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A perpetually overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos can’t accommodate any more newly arrived asylum-seekers after the number of people already housed exceeded the camp’s intended capacity by 400%, authorities said Friday.

Migrants who made it to Lesbos were sleeping in the open or in tents outside the Moria refugee camp, and the population inside has reached 12,000, two regional officials told The Associated Press.

Some newcomers were being taken to a small transit camp run by the United Nations’ refugee agency on the island’s north coast. The Moria camp was built to host 3,000 refugees.

The island authorities said at least 410 migrants coming in boats from Turkey reached Lesbos on Friday.

The officials asked not to be identified pending official announcements about the camp.

Greece has again become the busiest point of entry for migrants in the European Union, surpassing Spain and Italy, according to figures published by EU border protection agency Frontex.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria, traveled from Turkey to nearby Lesbos and on to mainland Europe during 2015-16, fueling political tensions and a humanitarian crisis.

But the number of people arriving dropped sharply after the European Union reached agreements to close off Balkan borders and for Turkey to serve more migrants and prevent them from embarking for Europe..

On Monday, officials from Greece’s army, coast guard, local governments and various agencies plan to meet on Lesbos to consider emergency housing options

Lesbos is one of five Greek islands off the Turkish coast with large camps and where the movement for migrants to the Greek mainland is restricted.

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