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SYRIZA Assails New Democracy Plan for Floating Refugee Fence

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(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Tatiana Bollari)

ATHENS - Joining a chorus of activists ripping a New Democracy government plan to have a floating fence erected in the Aegean Sea near the island of Lesbos to keep out refugees and migrants, the major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA decried it as “hideous.”

The former ruling Leftists called on the government to give up the idea to deter more refugees and migrants from coming from Turkey, where they had first gone fleeing war and strife in their homelands, especially Afghanistan and Syria, but also from areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, seeking jobs and a better life.

The European Union closed its borders to them, dumping the problem largely on Greece, which is trying to handle some 100,000 of them, including 50,000 on islands, with virtually all seeking asylum.

Nearly 50,000 came after New Democracy ousted SYRIZA in July 7 snap elections after criticizing the Leftists for having an open-door policy effectively inviting more refugees and migrants into the country, being kept in camps and detention centers.

The Defense Ministry invited private contractors to bid on supplying a 2.7-kilometer-long (1.7 miles) floating fence within three months, to be put off Lesbos, which has nearly 20,000 people in the notorious Moria camp built to house one-sixth that amount.

Lesbos has a coastline of 321 kilometers (199 miles) and there was no explanation from the government how the fence would work or keep boats and other craft being used by human traffickers in Turkey to send refugees wouldn’t be able to just steer around it.

SYRIZA said the idea was an insult to humanitarian values and in violation of European and international regulations, said Kathimerini. The net barrier would be 50 centimeters (20 inches) above water and have flashing lights to be spotted at night.

SYRIZA said that installing floating fences would be a major navigational hazard. “It is an absurd, unenforceable and dangerous plan,” it said after human rights groups, including Amnesty International also criticized the scheme as too dangerous.