Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas on Tuesday admitted that the camp on Samos has the “biggest problems” among the reception and identification centers operating on the Greek islands, saying that efforts are being made to transfer migrants to more suitable facilities on the mainland or, if necessary to other islands where conditions are marginally better.
Speaking a day after some 500 asylum seekers took to the streets of Samos to protest conditions at the camp, Vitsas told Praktoreio radio on Tuesday that efforts are under way to address the problems at the over-crowded facility, as well as to start transferring refugees entitled to protection to camps on the Greek mainland and to deport those who are not entitled to refugee status.
In a related development, meanwhile, businesses and services on Samos on Tuesday announced that they would go on strike on February 7 to protest the situation on the island.
“We are also addressing the details that are making our job harder in Samos,” Vistas said, without elaborating.
His comments came as Hellenic Coast Guard data showed there were more than 3,100 arrivals on the Greek islands in the month of December alone, bringing the number of migrants and refugees in the Aegean to just under 14,700. The majority are on Lesvos (6,922), where the main Moria camp is notorious for its squalid, over-crowded conditions, and Samos (3,966).
Describing the situation on the mainland, the migration minister said that some 25,000 refugees and migrants have been placed in apartments and 7,000 are in hotels and other tourist lodgings – “where conditions are excellent” – while between 18,000 and 20,000 are living at state-run camps.
Vitsas also said that the government is in touch with authorities in Turkey to address a spike in arrivals over Greece's land border over the past few months.