Local authorities on Samos yesterday appealed to the government to support their efforts to curb a seemingly relentless tide of illegal immigrants arriving on the island from neighboring Turkey after the number of migrants in the local reception center rose to 495, nearly double its capacity.
Samos Prefect Manolis Karlas wrote in a letter to the Interior Ministry, which handles immigration issues. Karlas called for support from the ministry – and the EU – for an initiative to recruit lawyers, translators and other experts to facilitate the operation of the reception center.
Karlas also forwarded a petition drawn up by employees at the center who are demanding a more secure employment status and the categorization of their job as "dangerous and a health risk" – a classification that would give them certain benefits. Workers have also complained that the growing number of migrants at the center poses a health risk and demands their constant presence. According to authorities, the center is dangerously overcrowded, with Tuesday's arrival of 24 would-be migrants swelling the numbers to 495.
Police on the island are also up in arms about the situation as they have been obliged to contribute officers to assist their overworked coast guard colleagues. As a result, the local police force claims to be understaffed by 88 officers.
Last month Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos announced the creation of new reception centers for the thousands of illegal migrants entering the country and called for increased funding from Brussels to tackle "what will become a major issue for the EU in the near future." By late yesterday, there had been no response from Pavlopoulos to the Samos prefect's appeal.