This week is seen as a crucial one regarding migration as the freeze announced by Migration and Asylum Policy Minister Notis Mitarakis on the construction of new closed centers on expropriated locations on the islands will expire.
The construction of the centers was put on hold last week by Mitarakis in an effort to restart the stalled dialogue with local authorities on the Greek islands regarding the government’s handling of the refugee crisis.
Local authorities are vehemently opposed to the expropriation of sites for the creation of new closed centers.
As a result, local authorities on the island of Lesvos were seen on Friday to be pushing for a new alternative proposal for the creation of a closed structure on one of the Tokmakia chain of islets off its eastern coast.
Moreover, local media reports said Friday that the proposal is being examined by government officials.
Nonetheless, the government has conveyed that it will move according to plan.
Mitarakis made his intentions clear in a statement Friday to authorities on the island of Chios, whose town council held an extraordinary session on Friday afternoon – but also to all other island leaders.
“I believe that the new structure will shield Chios, protect the citizens and help reduce the flows [of migrants],” he said. “I will be judged by the result, like all of us,” he stressed, taking responsibility for any possible failure of the plan.
He added that the VIAL refugee camp on Chios must be shut down “immediately.”
“The new structure will replace VIAL and will host far fewer compared to the numbers [of migrants] on the island today,” he said.
The rest of the migrants, he said, will leave, either for the Greek mainland or Turkey.
He went on to say that apartments in Chios’ main town and villages will no longer be allowed to host refugees and migrants in 2020 as it will be compulsory for them to stay at the new centers.
Meanwhile, flows from the Turkish coast continue to pile on more pressure with the arrival of 685 migrants and refugees in the previous three days.