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Greek islanders protest overcrowded refugee camps

Local residents, business owners and officials have launched a day of protest on the Greek islands hardest hit by migration, demanding that the Greek government ease the severe overcrowding at refugee camps.

Most stores were closed and public services were halted Wednesday on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos, where the camps in some cases have more than 10 times the number of people they were built for.

Public protests are planned on all three islands and their regional governors and mayors plan to travel to Athens on Thursday to present their demands to the government.

Migrants stand next to tents outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Nearly 75,000 people crossed illegally to European Union member Greece from Turkey in 2019, according to the U.N. refugee agency, an increase of nearly 50% from the previous year.

Island authorities are urging the Greek government to step up migrant transfers to the Greek mainland and are seeking further information on its plans to build additional facilities that would be used to detain migrants listed for deportation.

A migrants sits next to tents outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

A migrant man holds a plastic bag outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Migrants warm themselves outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions.(AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

A man rides a bicycle in front of closed shops in Mytilene, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Local residents and business owners have launched a day of protest on the Greek islands hardest hit by migration, demanding the Greek government ease severe overcrowding at refugee camps. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

A migrant woman walks outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Tents placed by migrants are seen outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Refugees and migrants wait to leave from Moria refugee camp and go to the mainland Greece, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions.(AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

A migrant walks in front of garbage bags dumped outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions.(AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Migrants warm themselves outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

A migrant walks in front garbage dumped outside the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the eastern Aegean island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation, with thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Refugees and migrants wait to leave from Moria refugee camp and go to the mainland Greece, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation where thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)

Refugees and migrants wait to leave from Moria refugee camp and go to the mainland Greece, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Some businesses and public services on the island are holding a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the migration situation where thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in overcrowded camps in increasingly precarious conditions. (AP PhotoAggelos Barai)