Migration Ministry responds to criticism over island camps

Migration Ministry responds to criticism over island camps

The Migration Ministry has blamed local authorities for the grim conditions inside island migrant camps in the wake of criticism from a senior European Union official.

In an interview with news website New Europe on Sunday, the EU’s special envoy on migration, Maarten Verwey, said the European Commission had made funding available to ensure appropriate accommodation for all. “However, the Commission cannot order the creation or expansion of reception capacity against the opposition of the competent authorities,” he added.

Speaking to Kathimerini on Thursday, sources inside the ministry did not deny the existence of EU funds, adding however that Verwey had omitted any mention of the difficulties “although he has personal experience.”

Authorities on Lesvos and Chios have opposed government plans to expand screening centers for refugees.

Meanwhile, only a small amount of the available funds have been absorbed. Of the 540 million euros earmarked until 2020, Greece has received just 97 million euros, according to the Economy Ministry.

The same sources referred to recent remarks by Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, who accused EU governments of “hypocrisy” for failing to shoulder their fair share of the refugee burden.

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