NEWS

Hot spot staff warn of strain as arrivals spike

TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

TAGS: Migration

Amid concerns over a rise in migrant arrivals from Turkey, staff at Greece’s reception and identification centers (RICs), commonly known as “hot spots,” wrote to Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas to complain about deteriorating conditions on the island facilities.

In their letter, workers warned about shortages in medical personnel following the government’s decision to terminate cooperation with humanitarian organizations and pass on responsibility for recruitments to the Health Ministry.

“For about a month in mid-summer, the Kos RIC was left without a single nurse for a population of 850 with a high morbidity rate,” the workers said, stressing the high number of psychological disorders and pregnancies. Employees added they have had to purchase office supplies and bring in their own computers due to a lack of resources. “There is plenty of money from European funds and other European funding sources, but disbursement is extremely slow,” they said.

The issue is expected to be discussed at an emergency government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsirpas this week. Kathimerini understands that island mayors may be invited to attend.

Sources told Kathimerini that the ministry will propose the creation of more pre-departure facilities for migrants slated for deportation to Turkey. Authorities are also expected to propose the construction of additional reception centers to ease pressure on the islands. Both plans will likely meet local opposition.

More than 3,000 people landed on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros since the beginning of September, whereas fewer than 20 individuals were returned to Turkey over the same period.

A total of 13,042 people are currently accommodated on the islands, according to official estimates.

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