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Society

Overwhelmed Greece Reopening Mainland Refugee, Migrant Centers

June 17, 2018

With other European Union countries keeping their borders shut to refugees and migrants, Greece, already overwhelmed with more than 64,000,  plans to reopen unused camps and facilities on the mainland to deal with them.

There are more than 15,000 on the islands but only a relative handful have been transferred because Greece said putting them all on the mainland would violate a suspended EU swap deal with Turkey, which has taken back few and continues to let human traffickers send more to the islands.

Most of those in Greece, mostly fleeing the civil war in Syria, are seeking asylum as they are not allowed to move on to more prosperous European countries which also reneged on pledges to help take part of the overload.

Following a series of meetings last week, sources told Kathimerini, the Ministry for Migration Policy decided to reopen four camps, first set up at the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, raising the total number of operational centers to 25.

Tents have been set up again at the Malakasa camp, north of Athens, to house 300 people. The Vagiochori camp near Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, is also expected to open in the coming days, housing 400 people, the paper said.

The facility at Elefsina, west of the capital, has been hosting 250 refugees since late April, while another 350 migrants and refugees were transferred to the reception center at Oinofyta, north of Attica.

A drop in the migrant population at the Skaramangas refugee center, meanwhile, was reversed after September last year, with the current number estimated at more than 2,000.

An average 75 migrants land daily on Greece’s Aegean islands. A total of 12,065 people had entered the country until June 11 this year, the paper said.

Human rights groups, volunteers, activists and the UNCHR have criticized conditions in camps, especially on the islands, where there’ regular violence as frustration grows over delays in processing the asylum applications and between different ethnicities.

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