Navy ship to bring 450 migrants to mainland ahead of deportation, minister says


A total of 450 migrants who arrived in Lesvos after March 1 will be transferred by navy ship to closed camps on the mainland ahead of their deportation, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said in a television interview on Saturday.

The new arrivals will be sent to centers in Malakasa, east Attica, and Serres, central Macedonia, Mitarakis said, adding that the ship left Mytilene earlier on Saturday.

Greece announced on March 1 that it would not accept any new asylum applications for a month following the build-up of migrants at the border and, initially, on the islands – a move that has drawn criticism from human rights agencies.

From the start of March, new arrivals were registered at the central police station in Mytilene and then put on a navy ship, the Rodos, which was dispatched to the island on March 12.

A total of 1,700 migrants have arrived at Greek islands since the start of the month. The minister said they will all gradually be moved to the mainland.

Though the vast majority of migrants are refugees land on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros, Greek authorities said about 100 people landed in the small island of Kastellorizo in early March.