Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Monday expressed his concern about rising tensions on islands which are hosting reception centers for migrants arriving from Turkey and criticized local authority leaders for resisting government proposals aimed at tackling the problem of overcrowding.
In comments to Real FM, Mouzalas admitted that there was a problem of overcrowding at the island centers, noting that most of the people arriving from Turkey are economic migrants not refugees from war zones.
He said he had proposed to local authorities on islands that centers be set up for the detention of migrants who violate laws so that the main centers are less crowded and chaotic and the processing of asylum applications can move forward more quickly while delinquent migrants are returned to Turkey.
As for the situation on Chios, where riots have broken out twice in the past week, Mouzalas condemned local authorities for initially agreeing to his proposal that an old landfill site be turned into a new reception center, larger than the current facility in the area of Souda.
Authorities on Chios are calling for migrants to be moved from the island. Mouzalas has countered that mass relocations would merely encourage more arrivals from Turkey.
The minister also expressed concern about the apparent participation of far-right protesters in attacks on a reception center on Chios, saying it was "no coincidence that all this happened on the day that Golden Dawn MPs went to Chios."