Wednesday, October 20

EU announces funding for five new refugee camps on the Greek islands | Migration and development

The EU will provide Greece with funding for the construction of five new refugee camps on the Aegean islands.

Ylva Johansson, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, visited Lesbos and Samos on Monday to announce that the EU would provide 250 million euros of funding (£ 213 million) for five new structures on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios. , Kos and Leros.

A large crowd of protesters gathered in front of the town hall on the seafront in Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos, to protest against his visit. Some wrapped themselves in Greek flags and others carried posters calling for European solidarity. A sign read: “No to the European Guantánamos. What a shame, Europe. “Another said:” There are no structures on the island, Europe takes responsibility.

Protesters hold a banner at Lesbos town hall during the visit of EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson to Lesbos on March 29.
Protesters hold a banner at Lesbos town hall during the visit of EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson to Lesbos on March 29. Photograph: Elias Marcou / Reuters

Kostas Moutzouris, the North Aegean regional governor, told The Guardian that he had canceled his meeting with Johansson during his visit. “We do not want the money for new camps, we want it for what we have suffered all these years, but not to build new camps,” he said.

In a joint press conference with Greek immigration minister Notis Mitarachi, Johansson said it was “of the utmost importance” that people were not in the “temporary” camp built in the wake of the Moria fire during another winter. An agreement for 155 million euros has just been signed for the construction of camps in Lesbos and Chios, he said.

He said there should be “fast and fair” asylum processes, and that the EU was asking Turkey to resume accepting immigrants from Greece.

“Even if you are not eligible [to stay in Greece] you are a human being, you have rights and dignity and must be treated accordingly, ”he said.

Mitarachi said the new centers in Samos, Kos and Leros would be ready within three months and would offer “decent” living conditions, but entry and exit would be controlled, with fences around the camps.

“For those who believe that we are creating a new Moria, it will be proven in practice that they are wrong,” he said.

Human rights groups have criticized the temporary camp on Lesbos which has been dubbed “Moria 2: 0” for its poor living conditions.

Mitarachi said there was too much “semantics” around the new camp, that it would “have a central gate,” he said. He said that all asylum seekers would have a card indicating the hours they could leave the center to provide a sense of security for refugees and the local community.

Humanitarian groups working on the ground with refugees expressed concern. “Ylva Johansson’s visit to Lesbos and Samos to promote new camps and a ‘Europeanized’ migration policy shows how EU leaders live in a parallel universe,” said Stephan Oberreit, Head of Mission for Doctors Without Borders in Greece.

“Thousands of men, women and children continue to suffer every day in the European camps of Samos and Lesbos, while nothing seems to indicate that the model of containment that created hells like Moria and Vathy and recurring emergencies in the last five years has been called EU question, ”said Oberreit.

“We have said it several times: continuing to clone and repackage the containment model is the best recipe for catastrophe. It is time to demand decent alternatives to the camps and access to a fair and dignified asylum procedure, otherwise those seeking safety in Europe will continue to suffer. “

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