Responding to rising tensions on eastern Aegean islands due to the growing population of migrants and asylum seekers, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has made a request to European authorities that individuals from countries with low asylum recognition rates be temporarily transferred to pre-removal centers on mainland Greece.
In a letter addressed to European Union interior ministers and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos that was made public Friday, Mouzalas warned about congestion at the hot spots on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, adding that it was mostly caused by the rising number of migrants who are not covered by the relocation agreement and who must as a result be sent back to Turkey.
“It is important to address the concerns of the local population and curb the adverse reactions already noted on many islands where the situation is difficult,” Mouzalas said, adding that the creation of closed centers on the islands requires time, which is not an option.
“It is for that reason that we believe that some of the migrants from countries with low recognition rates… should be temporarily transferred to pre-removal centers on the mainland,” he said, asking for European aid to “help decongest the islands smoothly, effectively and immediately.”
The leftist minister said that the measure would concern between 100-150 persons per week, migrants who have broken the law or whose asylum claims are manifestly unfounded – mostly Pakistani, Moroccan and Algerian natives.
Speaking to Kathimerini on condition of anonymity, a police source said that economic migrants from the Maghreb region (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) often display delinquent behavior and are very hard to keep under control.
“They are mostly men of young age who are only interested in making their way into Europe,” the official said.
On Friday, 141 people arrived on Lesvos and 66 on Chios. The vast majority were of African origin. Meanwhile, 117 Pakistani natives reached Kalymnos on two separate boats. Police arrested two Ukrainian smugglers.