Closed centers on islands moving ahead as planned

Closed centers on islands moving ahead as planned

Despite vehement local opposition to the construction of new closed centers on the Aegean islands and Tuesday’s clashes between residents and riot police, the government insists it does not intend to back down from its decision to go ahead with the plan.

“We are consistent with our campaign commitments, we are implementing what we promised: closed centers, speeding up asylum procedures, border protection,” a government official told Kathimerini on Tuesday. 

With the recent surge in migrant flows from the Turkish coast, the government’s preferred solution is the establishment of closed centers in remote areas of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, which it says will help it better control the situation and facilitate the returns of asylum seekers in an organized matter.

“The dialogue [with island authorities] cannot continue indefinitely, especially when the problem is so explosive,” the same official said.

For his part, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Tuesday, “We are asking the local communities to understand that these closed facilities will benefit the country and their communities.” 

Meanwhile, as clashes between islanders and riot police continued on Tuesday, the government announced the three companies selected to undertake the preparatory work for the fencing and clearing of the land where the new centers will be created at a cost of 3 million euros – derived, for the time being, from the state budget.

More specifically, Aktor is undertaking the project on Lesvos, Terna is the contractor for a similar project on Chios and Mytilineos will undertake the work on Samos.  

Next week, a tender will be announced inviting bids for the construction of two centers on Lesvos and Chios.  

The aim is for the centers to be completed within the next six months, ideally in the summer, which is a period of increased flows from Turkey. 

According to reports, a request has already been filed for funding to the European Union, which in turn has asked for further clarifications regarding the technical specifications of the centers, whose cost is estimated at almost 200 million euros. 

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