Mitsotakis Will Visit Island Refugee, Migrant Center Battlegrounds


PM Mitsotakis, island officials agree on measures to decongest migrant hotspots. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Tatiana Bollari)

ATHENS - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to go to three Greek islands where residents have ferociously fought the government’s plans to take land to build detention centers aimed at sorting out migrants not eligible for asylum.

The protests became so violent that squadrons of riot police sent to Lesbos, Chios and Samos had to be withdrawn, with one group of officers attacked in their hotel room and pitched battles taking place, seeing tear gas fired at demonstrators.

While Mitsotakis will go to the islands, the government will not back down from its plans, said Kathimerini, citing unidentified sources, despite the growing resistance about new centers being added to camps already holding more than 42,000 people on five islands.

While the new facilities are designed to separate economic migrants from refugees fleeing war zones like Afghanistan and Syria, there are worries on the islands they could become permanent housing if the flow continues from Turkey, where refugees and migrants had first gone from their homelands.

Mitsotakis made the decision after what the paper said was a volatile meeting with island officials and those from the northern Aegean region who have become more aggressive in denouncing the plans and as island residents set up blockades to stop the new centers plans.