ATHENS – The Elaionas detention center near the Greek capital that is holding refugees and migrants hoping for asylum will be closed – but still hold 900 people who can’t afford to go anywhere else.
It has been in operation since 2015 the first wave of what turned into hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands came to Greece through Turkey.
Those who will remain there are recognized refugees who have no other place of residence or the financial means to rent accommodation, said Kathimerini of the plan.
Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis has informed Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis that the municipality is not going to renew the contract for the concession of the land in Elaionas, which expires Dec. 31.
Bakoyannis said that’s because the crisis has eased and there’s no longer a need for the facility that was designed to hold 700 but held some 2,500 at its peak. There are still about 1900 there.
Because no additional staff were added to deal with the greater numbers there was a backlash from residents around the facility who were upset with it, and Greece is still holding scores of thousands of refugees in migrants on the mainland and five Aegean islands near Turkey.