Plans by the Citizens’ Protection Ministry aimed at tackling a burgeoning new refugee crisis foresee the transfer of some 10,000 asylum seekers from overcrowded camps on the islands of the eastern Aegean to less cramped facilities on the mainland among other measures, Kathimerini understands.
The migrants in question have all been deemed as qualifying for refugee status and as such not being eligible for return to Turkey as part of an agreement signed by Ankara and Brussels in March 2016.
More than 28,000 refugees and economic migrants are currently living in state-run reception centers on five eastern Aegean islands, with conditions on Lesvos and Samos of particular concern. On Lesvos alone some 13,000 people are living in and around the Moria camp, which was designed to accommodate a maximum of 3,000 people.
Ahead of the anticipated transfer, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis is on Friday to chair an emergency meeting with the country’s regional governors; sources say he will ask them to share the burden of hosting the asylum seekers from the islands.
The Defense Ministry has reportedly compiled a list of out-of-use military facilities that could be revamped to serve as venues to host those migrants at a relatively low cost.
Some behind-the-scenes diplomacy is under way too following an agreement reached by Germany, France, Italy and Malta to relocate migrants rescued at sea. According to sources, Greek officials are to broach the idea of a similar initiative involving Greece at a summit of interior ministers scheduled to take place in Luxembourg on October 8.