Gov't overhauling migrant center planning as islands appeal for help

TAGS: Migration, Politics

Government officials on Tuesday determined which reception centers for migrants across the country are to close and where new, improved facilities are to open but did not determine a time-frame, even as authorities on the Aegean islands warn of dangerously cramped and tense conditions in local camps.

More than 12,500 migrants are currently living in reception centers on five Aegean islands – Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Leros and Samos – and hundreds more are arriving every day from neighboring Turkey.

Spyros Galinos, the mayor of Lesvos, which is hosting 5,484 migrants, wrote to Alternate Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Tuesday to express his concern about the “extremely dangerous conditions” on the island.

He asked the minister for the immediate transfer of migrants from Lesvos to other facilities on the mainland “to avert far worse developments.”

However, decongesting facilities on the islands is part of the government’s broader overhaul of a network of reception centers spread across the country.

An aide close to Mouzalas determined on Tuesday which camps in northern Greece will close and which will be improved but did not say when this would happen.

Among the facilities that are to close are those in Sindos and Oraiokastro, near Thessaloniki, and in Nea Kavala, near Kilkis.

Reception centers in Diavata and Vassilika, also in northern Greece, are to be upgraded.

A new reception center for minors is to start operating at the Amygdaleza facility, north of the capital, next Monday.

Meanwhile, sources said on Tuesday that child refugees will start attending Greek schools at the end of this month.

The 22,000 child refugees currently in Greece will be inducted into the school system in groups.

Those aged between 4 and 7 will attend kindergartens to be set up within migrant reception centers.

Children aged 7 to 15 will join classes at public schools near the reception centers where they are staying. And unaccompanied minors aged 14 to 18 will be able to join vocational training classes if they so desire.