The conditions on Greek Islands for asylum seekers has been labeled as “untenable” by the European Commission [official website] due to heavy snowfall in the region, said a spokesperson on Monday. The islands have seen a steady flow of refugees seeking asylum in the EU, the numbers nearing 16,000 people. The commission stated [EU Observer report] that they are aware of the situation on the islands, yet do not dictate policy to any other member state. The Greek authorities have stated [EU Observer report], that “There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore” swearing that the Greek government had successfully completed wintering preparations of the islands last week. Reports from the Island of Lesbos state that it is currently being occupied by 6,000 asylum seekers, though capacity is only set to accommodate 3,500. Around 1,000 of the residents on the Island are currently living in tents.
The migrant crisis, flowing from the conflicts in the Middle East, has led to an incredible surge of asylum seekers attempting to make their way to Europe. Earlier this month the UN released a report that showed [JURIST report] the highest amount of migrant deaths in recorded history. In Greece alone, in November, there was the death [JURIST report] of a 66-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy in a Greek migrant camp, highlighting the issues of overcrowding in these camps. The trend had been to try and remove the migrants from Greece, but in June Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged the EU to no longer return migrants [JURIST report] to Turkey under a new agreement between the countries.