ATHENS – Greece's Migration Ministry is closing eight of 67 hotels on the mainland holding migrants moved from island camps and centers and said the others will shut down by the end of the year.
They were transferred from five islands near Turkey which has allowed human traffickers to keep sending them during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Turkey is holding nearly four million people who went there fleeing war and strife in their homelands and economic conditions in sub-Saharhan Africa and other regions.
The reception hotels are closing, the ministry said, because 11,000 refugees will be leaving the system as Greece holds more than 100,000 people, virtually all seeking asylum after the EU closed its borders to them.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said the goal was to reduce overcrowding on the islands and mainland, noting that island camps were significantly decongested in the first quarter while arrivals from Turkey are down 90 percent, during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kathimerini.
On Aug. 13, the Vial migrant camp on Chios was put under lockdown after a 35-year-old man from Yemen and a female employee of the facility tested positive for the coronavirus but curiously there haven't been outbreaks in vastly overcrowded island centers holding them.