ATHENS -- SYRIZA's Refugee and Migration Policy Division held a press conference on Thursday in which the party's former migration ministers and officials criticized the government for snubbing Syriza's migration initiatives on integrating refugees into Greek society.
Former migration ministers Dimitris Vitsas and Yiannis Mouzalas managed to have the EU recognize that the migration crisis has three dimensions, Vitsas said: The fact that the crisis will never end unless the conditions at refugees' home countries end (war, poverty and political persecutions); the regulation of borders as set out by the Geneva Convention and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants; and helping migrants self-organize and benefit the most from their newly acquired rights.
The last point, Vitsas said, was resolved by Syriza by not putting migrants into detention camps, but by accommodating them in homes and other designated properties. During Syriza, he noted, 12,500 refugee children went to school, as opposed to 7,500 in 2020, he noted.
Former Migration Ministry general secretary Miltiadis Klapas said that Syriza had created a "sufficient legislative framework to provide asylum applicants and refugees access to basic goods and services," and expressed "deep concern" about the current change in national planning for migrants' integration.
Klapas said that the New Democracy government "preferred to flood the islands, instead of implementing (our policy) for their geographical distribution."
Finally, he aired his discontent that the government showed no faith, as he said, in Syriza's 'Helios' integration program. The 'Helios' project needs to be speeded up and its budgets and beneficiaries to increase, Klapas said. The current ministry's decision to release residence-permit holding migrants from hotspots is an "inhumane" decision, he said, which "ignores all the procedures that we had established for their gradual exit from hotspots and their transfer to the 'Helios' program."