As the government scrambles to respond to increasing pressure on the Aegean islands amid a spike in arrivals of irregular migrants from Turkey, plans are in the works to offer compensation to local authorities that shoulder the burden of some 20,000 transfers to the mainland over the coming months.
Many local communities oppose the planned transfer of the migrants from the islands where facilities are hosting up to four times more people than they were designed to hold.
Greek officials have ensured that the issue of migration has been included in the agenda of an upcoming European Union leaders’ summit on October 17 and 18 where Brexit is to dominate talks. The discussion is expected to touch on the issue of funding to Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening to “open the gates” for migrants to Europe unless further support is provided. The European Commission has earmarked 1 billion euros for Turkey for 2020, the same sources said.
A bill being drafted by the Greek government meanwhile aims to speed up the asylum process so that migrants deemed as not meriting refugee status are returned to Turkey, in line with the March 2016 agreement between Ankara and Brussels. The bill is expected to go to Parliament by the end of this month.