Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Thursday blamed Chios authorities and conservative opposition New Democracy for mounting tensions on the Aegean island and in other parts of the country hosting large numbers of migrants.
In comments to Skai TV, Mouzalas said Chios authorities opposed plans for a new camp at a former landfill even though the funding has been secured. He said far-rightists were fueling tensions, resulting in locals calling for the removal of migrants from the island. Mouzalas also alleged that ND was inciting action to obstruct plans for the creation of closed detention centers for migrants who have displayed delinquent behavior.
Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous retorted that locals had changed their stance about the new camp due to a lack of trust in the government.
Mouzalas appealed to islanders to accept the plans, warning that a migrant deal between the European Union and Ankara is at risk.
Meanwhile, the government is said to be considering transferring migrants who are not eligible for asylum to centers on the mainland in order to free up space on the islands.
In a related development, academics, professional groups and residents of Chios have appealed to the Council of State to annul a decision to create the Vial reception center. They say the migrants should be hosted elsewhere until after decision on the case, which is to be heard on February 7.