Government plans to create “pre-departure” detention centers for migrants ineligible for refugee status have run into opposition from locals on Chios and other eastern Aegean islands, many of whom are planning legal action in a bid to limit the number of migrants residing in their communities.
Authorities say the new facilities will accelerate returns to Turkey and, as a result, help reduce the numbers of migrants on the islands which currently total more than 14,000.
A delegation of officials from the International Organization for Migration visited Kos Tuesday, accompanied by representatives of the Greek Police, Europol and the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex to brief local authorities on the implementation of an EU-funded scheme for voluntary repatriation of migrants.
According to sources, local officials appeared to welcome the voluntary repatriation program, but it remained unclear Tuesday whether they would accept government plans for the creation of a pre-departure center for 500 migrants on the island.
Meanwhile, sources indicate, a group of islanders are planning legal action in a bid to secure the removal of all migrants from Kos, concerned that their continued presence on the island could harm the prospects for a good tourist season.
In a related development, a legislative amendment submitted in Parliament Tuesday foresees compensation for residents of Moria, a small town on Lesvos, due to damage allegedly caused to their properties by migrants living in a nearby reception facility. The amendment relates to damage inflicted in 2015, which is said to amount to around 170,000 euros.