In a bid to decongest overcrowded migrant reception centers on the islands of the eastern Aegean as arrivals from neighboring Turkey increase, some 2,000 people are to be transferred to four new centers on Crete by the end of the summer, according to a plan presented by Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Thursday.
Four centers are to be set up on the island, one in each of its prefectures, where the migrants are to be accommodated in prefabricated homes, not tents, and will be provided with food, medical care and schooling for children, according to Mouzalas, who presented his proposals to regional and local authority officials.
Efforts will be made to keep migrants of different ethnic groups separate as tensions relating to ethnicity have led to many of the brawls at state-run facilities in recent weeks.
The government has pledged to improve accommodation for migrants as the pressure is growing at cramped reception centers amid an uptick in arrivals from Turkey.
On Wednesday, 169 new arrivals were registered on the islands of the eastern Aegean.
Government officials say the influx is still at manageable levels – and certainly way below the thousands of people that had been arriving daily a year ago.
The migrants the government is planning to move from the islands are those who have completed the first phase of their asylum applications.
The strategy was condemned as half-baked on Thursday by conservative New Democracy. “They are unable to manage the situation and, faced with their own inadequacy, they resort to panicked moves,” said Vassilis Kikilias, who is responsible for ND’s policy on migration affairs.
Authorities continued their crackdown on migrant smugglers on Thursday, with police on Kalymnos arresting two Albanian nationals, a 34-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman, alleged to have smuggled five Syrians into the country.
Meanwhile police in Albania arrested 26 Afghan migrants who entered the neighboring country via the Kakavia border crossing.
Separately, a total of 22 unaccompanied minors who had been staying at the Aliens Bureau on Petrou Ralli Street were moved to hostels for children in Volos and on Crete.