Officials and inhabitants of the Greek islands heavily impacted by the presence of thousands of migrants have made the trip up to Athens Thursday, February 13, to protest against the government plan to build new settlements on their islands.
Dozens of protesters from islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos, gathered in front of the ministry of the Interior, have made banners hostile to the project of the conservative government, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Faced with an upsurge in arrivals of migrants on the aegean islands and asphyxia camps that welcome them in unsanitary conditions, the Greek government announced the closure of three camps in the most crowded of Lesbos, Samos and Chios, whose conditions of life are unanimously denounced.
But these camps will be replaced by new centres closed, by mid-2020, with a total capacity of 20,000 migrants on these three islands, to which are added those of Leros and Kos.
“The time has come to take decisions”
The local authorities and the inhabitants of the five islands outright rejecting the project, against which they have already expressed several times on their islands, and require the immediate transfer of the majority of asylum seekers present in their territories. Their fury is still up a notch with the announcement by the government that the land could be requisitioned for a period of 3 years to build the new centres. “The talks cannot go on indefinitely (…) the time has come to take decisions”, said on Wednesday the government spokesman Stelios Petsas on the string ERT, specifying that in case of requisition, the owners would be compensated.
“We are ready to find peaceful solutions, provided that the government gives up these methods of requisition, said the governor of the region North of the Aegean, Constantinos Moutzouris, on Alpha TV.
The construction of new camps should begin in march and should be operational this summer, announced the new minister of Migration Notis Mitarachi. They must be able to accommodate a total of 20,000 people for a maximum period of 3 months, the government has also planned to speed up the examination of asylum applications.
Unlike camps today, the new infrastructure will be “closed” in order to better monitor the comings and goings of asylum-seekers on islands. According to the High Commissioner for Refugees united nations (UNHCR), more than 38,000 asylum-seekers live in camps unhealthy on the Greek islands of the Aegean sea, while their capacity is 6200 people.
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