A fire broke out in the Moria migrant camp in Lesbos on September 29, killing at least one person. Protests ensued and the police fired teargas at migrants. Many refugees are staying on Lesbos due to an EU-Turkey deal. The camp has capacity for 3000 but it now houses around 12,000 people.
‘When the first refugees started arriving in Greece, they were mainly from Syria and numbers were smaller. Then, refugees from other countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan also started arriving and the migrant problem grew to what it is today. In response, refugee camps, or “hotspots”, have been set up in different parts of Greece. There is a hotspot near my family home – I remember going to the port of Piraeus to watch the first ships arriving. There were hundreds of people and there were rows and rows of big buses waiting to take them further into Greece.
The majority of hotspots are on army land, and the government used money from the EU to bring in tents and containers to set up migrant camps. Some children go to Greek schools and in some hotspots there are football pitches etc. But of course these don’t solve their many problems. Although there are NGOs working with migrants in Greece, the majority of Greeks are less sympathetic. The current new government is more right-wing and they brought the department of immigration under the police department, as if immigrants were people who need to be policed.
My sister has a company in Greece and she hires lots of Pakistani workers. They were willing to work for less than the going hourly rate and it makes sense for the majority of companies in Greece, but this also creates discontent amongst Greek workers, as unemployment is already high. With the migrant crisis, we Greeks are pushed even harder to face our problems, especially the economic ones.’