Greece to replace current migrant camps

Greece declared before the end of 2019, that the 3 biggest migrant camps situated in the Aegean Sea, more exactly on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, and Chios, will be supplanted by closed structures that will significantly increase their capacity. The date for the conclusion was not determined yet, however, this substitution is a top priority right now, in order to decongest these islands in terms of population, as pointed out recently in a press conference held by the special mandatory for migration of the Greek government.

The vast majority of the newcomers are either from Afghanistan or Syria, landing through Turkey and making refuge applications for the European Union while there. They are stranded in camps on the islands while trusting that the Greek government will analyze and process their application, a procedure that normally takes quite a while.

Some facts:

  • As of now, about 32,000 individuals live in hopeless conditions in the five camps where migrants have been registered, mostly in the islands of Chios, Lesbo, Cós, Leros, and Samos, which theoretically have a limit of around 6,200 individuals. 
  • Over the past 4 months 40,000 people have landed in Greece, according to the Ministry of Citizen Protection
  • Just last weekend, the Greek Coast Guard, identified 1,350 individuals that have arrived across the 5 Aegean islands.

The recent influx of migrants worsened the conditions of the camps which were already at a point considered as terrible. Several refugee and migrant rights organizations and the Council of Europe have been condemning the current status and conditions seen in those overcrowded camps. Dunja Mijatović, Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, published a recent report where it points to a ‘hazardous circumstance’ in the 3 camps of Lesbos, Corinth, and Samos. He specifically points out: “There is a frantic absence of medicinal consideration and wellbeing administrations in the packed camps that I visited. Individuals line for a considerable length of time to get nourishment and go to the latrine, and that is the point at which these offices exist”, in an effort to appeal for the necessity of improving the living conditions in those facilities and the urgent need for their asylum transfer out of the islands.

There will be a significant difference when comparing to the actual 3 overloaded biggest camps located in the Aegean Sea as the projected new camps will be closed facilities that will identify all asylum seekers for identification, verification of their status, and in the end to decide if they could be relocated or in the other hand returned to Turkey. This is somehow different from what is happening today as the migrants are allowed to enter and leave freely on the islands.

The 2 other asylum camps, in the islands of Leros and Cós, are in less dramatic conditions and instead of the replacement, will be refurbished and expanded.