Gov’t vows to improve centers for migrants

Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Spyros Vougias yesterday condemned the «wretched and inhumane» conditions at an overcrowded migrant detention center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos and pledged to work with other government ministries to improve the quality of accommodation offered to would-be migrants and refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey. «We will seek to upgrade infrastructure and curb bureaucracy so that the migrants are detained for shorter periods of time and with more dignity,» Vougias told reporters after touring the Pagani center. He described the center, designed to hold 300 people but currently accommodating more than double this number, as «a concentration camp» and said it was «not a place for human beings.» Vougias said he would try to secure the release from the center of dozens of young children, many of them unaccompanied minors, reportedly living in extremely cramped quarters in one of the warehouse rooms. In a related development yesterday, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis chaired a meeting of senior ministry and coast guard officials as well as top-ranking police officers and immigration experts to discuss ways of tackling the relentless influx of would-be migrants into Greece from Turkey. According to sources, the minister is planning a redistribution of coast guard resources with the aim of putting more staff and resources in «hot spots,» chiefly in the eastern Aegean where most smuggling ships are intercepted. Chrysochoidis is also said to be planning closer cooperation between coast guard and police officers, particularly in the eastern Aegean.