NEWS

Authorities scramble to find housing for child refugees

TAGS: Migration, Politics

Some 380 unaccompanied minors remain in closed hot spots, detention centers and even on the streets, as a program to house them in rented apartments has yet to materialize due to staff shortages and despite increased funding by the European Union, authorities said on Wednesday.

According to reports, some 100 unaccompanied minors at the Moria hot spot on Lesvos will be transferred by Friday to a camp on the island under the supervision of NGOs Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),  Save the Children and Metadrasi.

The Moria camp, which provides temporary shelter to 3,000 asylum seekers, was the site of violent clashes between migrants and riot police on Tuesday.

“It is a stopgap solution until accommodation facilities are organized,” a Labor Ministry official told the Kathimerini, adding that similar temporary solutions will be used to house minors from other detention centers such as Amygdaleza outside Athens, while by the end of May the National Center of Social Solidarity (EKA) plans to create infrastructure to house 200 minors.

According to the law, it is illegal to house minors at hot spots, which were set up to register and process migrants, and they should be moved to other reception centers.

Referring to the use of force by police to contain rioting migrants inside the Moria hot spot on Tuesday, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said it did not make him “proud” but “was necessary in light of the circumstances.”

The clashes, which left 24 people injured, began when young migrants started fighting each other and attempted to break out of the center, prompting police to fire rounds of tear gas.

“I saw a strictness which, however, was necessary,” Mouzalas said, referring to the use of force by riot police.

Mouzalas and his Dutch counterpart Klaas Dijkhoff were jeered by frustrated migrants on a visit there shortly before the riot broke out.

“We are worried. We are not proud. We’re not happy,” he said on Wednesday, insisting that Greece will treat asylum seekers according to the laws of the land and European Union dictates in the examination of their asylum applications.

The trouble began after reports surfaced suggesting that asylum applications were being rejected.

Authorities and aid groups have expressed growing concern about detaining migrants of different backgrounds in the same center for weeks on end, and fear that clashes between them are taking place along ethnic lines.

Mouzalas said he expects more unrest in the future and that it was up to authorities to find a way to deal with it.

Meanwhile, Greek police distributed leaflets on Wednesday in Arabic and English to migrants stranded at the Idomeni border camp in northern Greece, urging them to evacuate the sprawling camp and go to other centers, where they will be able to track the progress of their asylum applications and have better living conditions.

According to the government’s migration spokesman, Giorgos Kyritsis, 4,500 of them will be transferred to four buildings outside Thessaloniki within the next 10 days.

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