ATHENS – Overriding resistance from local governments and residents, Greece's New Democracy government will forge ahead with plans to build new and more secure refugee and migrant detention centers and camps on islands near Turkey.
There are about 34,000 being held over the objections of the municipalities and people who live on the islands and want them transferred to the mainland, where there's another 66,000 being detained, virtually all seeking asylum.
Some 12,500 were burned out of the notorious Moria camp on Lesbos in a fire set by a few suspects upset over a quarantine aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A tent city was hastily assembled for them where they will spend the winter on the shores of the Aegean, even families with children, after the European Union once again reneged on pledges to help as soon as the headlines died away.
Human rights groups, activists and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) working in the camps have said they are inhumane but the government has gotten tough while trying to deal with the Coronavirus at the same time.
The Kara Tepe camp set up following the destruction of the Moria camp was supposed to be a temporary solution but looks to be permanent despite complaints of a lack of infrastructure, such as showers and toilets and sewerage.
Mytilene Mayor Stratis Kytelis met with government officials in Athens to discuss the location of a new permanent facility on the island after officials and residents there said they wouldn't accept one.
Health authorities, meanwhile, are conducting regular Covid-19 tests at facilities on the islands to ensure that any outbreak is quickly contained, said Kathimerini, with tests of 110 migrants at the Vial camp on Chios finding 11 cases while 35 workers also tested positive.
The refugees and migrants were sent by human traffickers that Turkey allows to operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with with the EU, after those trying to reach Europe fled war and strife and economic hardships in their homelands, especially Afghanistan and Syria.
The EU has closed its borders to them and broken promises to help take some of the overload on Greece during multiple crises hitting the country.