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Society

With Greece’s Refugee, Migrant Camps Overflowing, Samos Objects to Another

July 22, 2018

With more than 64,000 refugees and migrants being held in overcrowded detention centers and camps on Greek islands in the mainland, officials on Samos, within sight of the Turkish coast from where they arrive by boat, said they don’t want another.

Samos authorities said they would go to Athens to outline their objections to plans for another center at a military facility on the island to officials of the Migration Ministry and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA), said Kathimerini.

Samos Mayor Michalis Angelopoulos said he has not been officially informed of the plans but said officials have been urging for a long time to have migrants and refugees there moved to the mainland but only a relatively have been with the migration ministry saying wholesale movements would violate terms of a suspended European Union swap deal with Turkey, which is allowing human traffickers to still operate, and with numbers swelling on Greek islands.

Angelopoulos said he had received a letter Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas referring to plans to “decongest” the island, not create a new reception center to take an overflow from a camp at the port of Vathy, now with 3,590 people, though it was designed to hold 650.

Vitsas said earlier that the Vathy center would shut once the new one opens but the paper said that military facilities on the islands and mainland are way over capacity, amid frequent clashes between ethnic groups and with riot police trying to keep control.

The refugees and migrants are in facilities that human rights groups and volunteers working in them said are not fit for humans in places and with frustration growing over delays in processing asylum applications, taking up to two years and more.

The European Union dumped the problem on Greece during the country’s more than eight-year-long austerity and economic crisis and shut its borders, also reneging on promises to help take some of the overload.

Some 31 military facilities around the country, including venues on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Kos, and in Diavata near Thessaloniki, are hosting 29,139 migrants, 4,644 in excess of those camps’ capacity, according to official statistics, the paper said.

Officials on the islands have been pleading and demanding more help but have essentially been ignored. On Chios, the local Communist party branch said there wasn’t enough water for those in a detention center there.

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