CHIOS, Greece — Almost six years into a refugee and migrant crisis that still sees Greece holding about 100,000 of them – most seeking asylum – residents of the overrun island of Chios have had enough.
They don’t want the New Democracy government to build a new detention camp and took to the streets in a 2-kilometer (1.24-mile) long motorcade to protest the plan to replace the overcrowded VIAL center in the village of Chalkios, said Kathimerini.
With some asylum-seekers being transferred to the mainland, the new closed facility in the Tholos region will be smaller, with a capacity of 1,500 people, and will provide security to both residents and migrants, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said.
Local reports said residents from Kardamyla, Langada, Sykiada and Vrontados took part in the motorcade to the island’s capital waving black flags in a demonstration to denounce the scheme.
They want the existing camp shut but a new facility to hold no more than 500 people, the government saying it’s needed to identify and register migrants before they are transferred to mainland facilities to keep track.
Meanwhile, a meeting between Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi and Orestiada mayor Vasilis Mavridis was underway at the town hall of the northeastern Greek city on Monday afternoon.
"The government's policy for the reduction of the migration flows is non-negotiable. For New Democracy's government the flows and the migration issue is a major problem for the country and we are implementing a very strict migration policy that sets two to three targets. The reduction of the flows and limiting the repercussions on local communities. In this context, I will happily discuss with you and with the local agencies and political party representatives and the regional authority of Evros. I believe that we all agree that our country can't and should not be the gateway for traffickers to Europe, so the protection of the borders, the border guards and the line of defence, with closed and controlled centres, are for us necessary in order to not experience again all that we experienced in the previous years," Mitarachi said.