The government is expected to move forward with its plans to build new, more secure, reception facilities for migrants on the Aegean islands in the coming days, with announcements on construction expected imminently even as local authorities continue to oppose the projects.
Without determining exactly when works are to begin on the islands, a source close to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis indicated that “bulldozers are poised to move in.”
The government appears determined to move forward with the creation of so-called “closed centers” despite a spate of protests by local authorities and residents on the islands who are fed up with the growing population of migrants and mistrust government pledges to gradually close down the existing facilities on the five islands – Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos – which are all overcrowded.
Meanwhile authorities are scrutinizing 20 of the 425 nongovernmental organizations working with refugees in Greece amid suspicions that they have either been mismanaging funding for migration or amid suspected connections with human trafficking networks. According to sources, there are indications that one of the 20 NGOs under the microscope might have been involved in inciting recent protests by migrants on Lesvos, where overcrowding at the notorious Moria camp is intense.
Epaminondas Farmakis of the group HumanRights 360 told Kathimerini that Greece is the only European country that does not have a register of all NGOs operating within its borders, a factor that clearly makes it harder for authorities to have an overview of their activities and whether they are legitimate.
A key area of concern is foreign NGOs that are operating in Greece without any accountability to the Greek state, with officials expressing fears that the groups might have shady agendas such as inciting migrants to protest or collaborating with traffickers.