Μore than 46,000 third country nationals, would-be asylum seekers and migrants aiming to reach western and central Europe, landed or were transported to a handful of Greek isles in the northern Aegean in 2019, police authorities announced this week.
As in previous years, the island of Lesvos (Mytilene) was the "favorite" destination of migrant smuggling rings operating from the opposite Turkish coast, with more than 27,000 third country nationals landing on the island; followed Samos and Chios (Hios) a distant second and third, respectively.
The number of people reaching Lesvos or being taken there by coast guard units executing rescues was double in 2019 compared to 2018.
Slightly more than 13,400 people were evacuated from Lesvos to migrant/refugee shelters on the mainland in 2019, down from 14,135 in 2018.
Specifically, in and around the infamous Moria camp on Lesvos, as of Thursday there were a recorded 18,747 asylum seekers, of which 1,150 are unaccompanied minors - classified as such either by their own verbal claims, or by documentation.
According to camp officials, 36 percent of those hosted in Moria are males; 29 percent women, and 35 percent under the age of 18 - again, either based on the latter's claims, or proved by documentation.
The majority of those in Moria are Afghan nationals, i.e. 73 percent. People from war-torn Syria only make up 12 percent, while people citing Somalia as their country of destination are calculated at 5 percent of the total.
Roughly 10 percent of the third country nationals hosted at the Moria site are from more than a dozen sub-Saharan African countries.
Just as noteworthy is the fact that throughout 2019 only 48 people who illegally entered Greece over recent years were readmitted to Turkey from the island of Lesvos.
In a statement accompanying the release of the figures, the acting director of the Moria camp, Dimitris Vafeas, stressed that "in order for the situation at the Moria center of Lesvos to be understood, this year we cared for more than 27,000 refugees and migrants, when over the same period Italy accepted a total of just 11,000 people".