Government officials are ruling out the transfer thousands of refugees and migrants left homeless by the destruction of the Moria camp from the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos to the mainland, indicating that such a move could spark unrest at camps on other islands.
Officials say that a temporary camp will be built to provide shelter for an estimated 12,000 people sleeping rough on Lesvos, with the priority being given to families with children. In the meantime, the government also plans to build a new reception and identification center (RIC) on the island, where residents will not be allowed to come and go freely, thus bolstering Lesvos residents’ sense of security, according to Migration Ministry sources.
“Anything else would annul the efforts made so far to contain inflows and relieve pressure on the islands. The Moria ‘tactic’ would have soon be followed by the other RICs on Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos. ‘Do it like Moria’ would have been the new motto at those camps,” Manos Logothetis, the ministry’s special secretary for asylum seekers, told Kathimerini, expressing concerns that the fires which destroyed Moria were set deliberately and that this is a move that could be emulated by residents at other camps.
The new “closed” camp would respond to demands by the local community by containing its residents, he said, adding that mass transfers are not on the cards.
However, from the start of the year and by late August, more than 13,278 people were relocated from Moria to facilities on the mainland after being deemed eligible for protection. These transfers took Moria’s population from 19,410 in February to 12,714 in late August.
The situation was also helped by a drop in migrant flows from Turkey to the Greek islands. Lesvos receive 39 people in April, 227 in May, 245 in June, 285 in July and 173 in August. In total, the five islands that have RICs received 1,300 people from June to August this year, compared with more than 15,800 in the same period last year.