Five years into Europe’s refugee crisis, the multi-billion Euro refugee deal with Turkey has broken down. Less than 2% of the refugees slated for resettlement in the rest of Europe have left Greece, as European nations refuse to implement the bloc’s continent-wide asylum policy. At the same time, almost no failed asylum claimants have been returned to Turkey, while the number of new arrivals have spiked, doubling in the past year.
As a result, Greece has been left to cope with the crisis alone, with the bankrupt Southeast European nation transformed into the continent’s open-air prison camp. On the island of Samos, where 7000 migrants and refugees live in squalid conditions on the hillside overlooking a town of 7000 Greeks, locals are enraged.
With the tourist economy devastated, islanders feel abandoned by both the Greek government in Athens and the European Union as a whole. The situation’s about to explode: and local islanders blame the mostly Northern European NGOs and journalists they accuse of exacerbating the migrant crisis, and ruining the image of their island overseas.
VICE News travelled to Samos to meet the refugees, migrants and locals living in uncomfortable proximity as tensions mount, and local officials demand action from the capital. With tensions at boiling point, this once-idyllic island is the frontline of Greece and Europe’s migrant crisis.