Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday chaired a discussion with key members of his cabinet on how to tackle a burgeoning new migration crisis, as his Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis warned of an “unmanageable” situation on the Aegean islands where reception centers are intensely overcrowded.
Mitsotakis discussed with his ministers a plan to transfer some 4,000 refugees from the islands to the mainland by the end of November and to return to Turkey another 10,000 migrants deemed not to merit refugee status to Turkey by the end of 2020.
The meeting also focused on the practicalities of creating five closed pre-departure centers for migrants who are not entitled to asylum in Greece and on tightening border controls.
Meanwhile, speaking at a committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, Chrysochoidis indicated that the situation on Greece’s islands was becoming increasingly challenging. The problem created on the islands in recent months is “unmanageable” and “explosive,” he said.
Quizzed by members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Greece’s handling of migration, he said that even if the EU’s entire mechanism were to be mobilized “it wouldn’t be able to manage this human tsunami.”
Chrysochoidis defended the government’s new law to speed up the asylum procedure, which he said was in line with European regulations, noting that doctors in camps and employees in the asylum service are faced with hundreds of daily arrivals.
In Athens, sources at ruling New Democracy slammed SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for accusing the government of depriving migrants of their rights, saying he let the Moria camp on Lesvos degenerate while he was premier.