Greek authorities are planning the transfer of thousands of migrants from overcrowded facilities on the Aegean islands to centers on the mainland, sources said on Wednesday as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held talks with visiting European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos about a new burgeoning refugee crisis.
Facilities on the mainland can currently host 3,000 migrants while emergency plans are under way to accommodate an additional 3,000 people, Kathimerini understands.
News of the plans emerged on the first day of an informal summit of European Union leaders in Salzburg, Austria, which is to continue on Thursday with talks expected to focus on migration.
Meanwhile Amnesty International joined the chorus of organizations condemning the living conditions at reception centers on the islands and calling for them to be moved to the mainland.
“The harsh consequences of the EU-Turkey deal are destroying the lives of thousands of people,” it said, referring to an agreement to return migrants to Turkey from Greece that was signed in 2016.
Avramopoulos, who also met with Migration Minister Dimitras Vitsas and other members of the cabinet, said that the situation on the Aegean islands will soon improve. Vitsas said that overcrowding at the Moria camp on Lesvos and at facilities on Samos will be tackled as a priority.
New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was in Salzburg on Wednesday for a summit of the European People’s Party, described the Moria camp as a “hellhole” and accused the government of mismanaging EU funds.