Refugee camp targeted by Turkey to close

Refugee camp targeted by Turkey to close

The decision by the Migration and Asylum Ministry to proceed with the gradual closure of the Lavrio refugee camp due to objective criteria, namely the unsuitability of the site to continue hosting refugees, will also satisfy Turkey, which has constantly demanded its shutdown as it considers it a “training camp” for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

This development, however, was initiated before the February 6 earthquakes in Turkey and the thaw in Greek-Turkish relations.

More specifically, in December 2022, the Municipality of Lavreotiki briefed the Migration Ministry on a notice highlighting the risk of building collapse in the event of a moderate earthquake. Part of the camp was built in the late 1940s.

It indeed hosted, to a significant extent, Kurdish refugees, some of whom the Turkish state treated as terrorists. 

The Municipality of Lavreotiki has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the poor condition of the buildings over the last decade to a number of governments, with the Greek state stopping the funding of its operation as early as 2016-17. In practice, it has been operating for the last few years with the support and funding of various NGOs, with the state not being involved at all in its management.

After the municipality was notified about the approximately 150 refugees residing at the camp, 100 were transferred to other shelters in Attica.

At the moment less than 50 remain and it is expected that they will soon be transferred to some of these structures.

In the last three years of high tensions in Greek-Turkish relations, a number of high-ranking officials in Turkey have raised the issue of a “terrorist training camp” in Lavrio in public and in contacts with representatives of the Greek state.

Athens has repeatedly denied this accusation, which Ankara has used many times in its claim that Greece is fostering terrorism. 

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