World Greece Assures There are Plans to Keep Migrants From Living in Tent Camps During Winter
In post-pandemic Europe, migrants will face digital fortress
PEPLO, Greece (AP) — As the world begins to travel again, Europe is sending migrants a loud message: Stay away! Greek border police are firing bursts of deafening noise from an armored truck over the frontier into Turkey. Mounted on the vehicle, the long-range acoustic device, or “sound cannon,” is the size of a small TV set but can match the volume of a jet engine. It’s part of a vast array of physical and experimental new digital barriers being installed and tested during the quiet months of the coronavirus pandemic at the 200-kilometer (125-mile) Greek border with Turkey to stop people entering the European Union illegally.
On Wednesday, Greece's migration minister assured there are plans to keep migrants from living in tents during the winter months, the Associated Press reported.
However, work on a new refugee center on the Greek island of Lesbos has not yet begun after a fire ripped through the overcrowded Moria camp nearly nine months ago. A temporary camp titled Mavrovouni was then established and its poor conditions were highlighted by the media that showed flooded and muddy tents.
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"In case we're still not in the new camps in Lesbos, we have contingency planning to ensure that we will never again see these pictures we've seen in the temporary camp in Mavrovouni," Greece's Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said when asked if migrants would spend a second winter in tents.
By wintertime, three camps in Samos, Kos and Leros are expected to be established, Mitarachi said. On Greece's islands, there are currently around 10,000 migrants.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Greece has pledged to have the new facility in Lesbos built before next winter.
Greek authorities said the fires were started deliberately last September by residents who were protesting their confinement at the overcrowded Moria camp. The camp, which was built for less than 3,000 people, was jammed with 12,500 people and was locked down due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Some people were later moved to the mainland or to a temporary camp.
Greece says many migrants in Turkey could seek asylum there
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece on Monday designated neighboring Turkey as a safe country in which to seek international protection for the majority of asylum-seekers departing its shores for Greece. A joint decree from the Greek foreign and migration ministries said the designation applies to asylum-seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia. It said Turkey meets all criteria to examine asylum requests from these nationals, as there "they are not in any danger ... due to their race, religion, citizenship, political beliefs or membership in some particular social group, and can seek asylum in Turkey instead of in Greece.
Mitarachi said the tender process for choosing companies to build the new facility, foreseen to hold up to 5,000 people, is underway. He said it has taken time to get the necessary licenses and environmental permits, as well as finalize a grant forfunds.
The Mavrovouni camp was set up after the fire at Moria as a temporary emergency measure.
Mitarachi said a separate refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios is also under tender.
The Moria camp mainly accommodated people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia who arrived clandestinely on Lesbos from the nearby Turkish coast. Aid agencies had long warned of dire conditions at the facility, which was built to house just over 2,750 people.
Around 10,000 migrants remain in the Greek islands. After a meeting with Mitarachi in Brussels,Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said a priority must be to "make sure that we will be able to have good winter conditions for migrants."
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