The government on Tuesday put into motion the transfer of 91 unaccompanied refugee children from the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos to the Greek mainland, following a destructive fire at the island’s main migrant processing center, or hot spot, at Moria.
The 91 minors were transferred to a separate site at the PIKPA summer camp when rioting broke out at the government-run Moria camp and after a large fire swept through the facility on Monday night, destroying tents and prefabricated homes.
Several families with children were also transferred from the Moria hot spot to unofficial center run by non-governmental organizations and the municipality at Kara Tepe, as authorities assess the damage at the Moria processing center and begin replacing shelters.
Ministry representatives met in Athens on Tuesday morning in the wake of the fire to decide where the minors would be placed once they arrived on the mainland.
Greece has come under criticism from rights groups for its treatment of hundreds unaccompanied minors, many of whom are being held at the same facilities as adults in unsuitable conditions, without access to specialized support and healthcare or education.
The officials also discussed the possibility of temporarily housing hundreds of migrants whose shelters at the Moria camp were destroyed on a ferryboat in the island’s port until the damage at the facility is repaired.
Meanwhile, in a related development, reports on Tuesday suggested that authorities are planning to temporarily house dozens of migrant families who have agreed to be deported back to their countries of origin at a controversial holding facility north of the Greek capital, which was shut down by the government soon after coming to power in 2015. The former military base at Amygdaleza has, according to officials, been equipped with prefabricated homes, a playground and other facilities to house families awaiting deportation.