Greek gov’t planning new approach to migration crisis


The government is planning an overhaul of its management of the refugee crisis, both on an administrative and budgetary level, Kathimerini has learned, while Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas Wednesday indicated that Greece was open to bilateral discussions about the crisis.

With hundreds of undocumented migrants landing on the Aegean islands every week from neighboring Turkey, and heading to already overcrowded reception facilities, Greek authorities are aiming to contain the problem.

Vitsas told reporters Wednesday that three new reception facilities would be set up on the Greek mainland to allow the relocation of additional migrants from the islands.

Meanwhile, a legislative amendment has been drafted, essentially aimed at centralizing the management of the refugee problem, and is to be submitted to Parliament in the coming days.

To date, services have been rather fragmented with the so-called Reception and Identification Service operating more or less independently. The new amendment would bring it under the supervision of the ministry, both in terms of management and budget.

The ministry is also to acquire a new department whose focus will be speeding up the process of transferring migrants from the Aegean islands to the mainland.

During his press conference Wednesday, Vitsas said there would be no new facilities on the islands, though he noted that efforts were under way to find a larger venue to replace an overcrowded center on Samos. If the government and local authorities fail to agree on a new location, then the existing facility in the port of Vathy will be expanded, Vitsas said.

There is local opposition to the expansion of camps on Lesvos too. Conditions at the island’s cramped Moria center have been worsened by the high temperatures and the fact that the sewage system requires replacement.

According to ministry figures, 7,569 migrants are living in and around the Moria center, more than twice its capacity of 3,100.