Chios municipal council rejects plan for closed migrant centre

Chios municipal council rejects plan for closed migrant centre

The municipal council of the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, rejected a government proposal to set up a new, closed pre-departure center for migrants on the island, in a marathon session that ended at midnight on Monday.

According to the plan discussed, the centre would be created at the 15th kilometre of the Chios-Volissos road.

Council members also rejected an alternative plan of Deputy Labour Minister and Chios MP Notis Mitarakis, who participated in the meeting, for granting municipal land at Mount Epos for the construction of the center.

Speaking at the municipal council, Mitarakis said that creating a new facility on the island is a prerequisite for the transfer of migrants and refugees and the eventual closure of the overcrowded VIAL centre.

Instead, the municipal council said it would only accept an identification centre for 500 people and announced it would participate in a protest rally planned in several islands affected by migration on January 22-23.

According to the government plan for the islands, which was announced by government spokesman Stelios Petsas and Deputy Minister of National Defense Alkiviadis Stefanis, the new centers will host between 1,000 and 5,000 people and they will replace the open camps such as Moria and Vathy.

The conservative government is seeking to manage a recent surge in migrant flows through a mix of measures, including tighter border controls and speeding up asylum procedures and returns.

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