Greece gets tougher with arriving asylum seekers

Photo: EPA Illegal migrants continue to flock on the Greek Aegean islands.

Greece will shut down overcrowded refugee camps on its Aegean islands and replace them with more restrictive holding centres, authorities said last Wednesday. The move is part of a government plan to tackle the resurgence in migrant arrivals in the last months. Vowing to tighten its borders and clear away bottlenecks in asylum procedures, Greek parliament approved earlier this month tougher asylum guidelines

Instead of now existing open-gates camps Athens will create closed pre-departure centres, which would make it easier to control the movements of asylum seekers and prevent them from slipping across to the mainland undetected, according to a government spokesman. “They cannot circulate in the country without restrictions, and because a clear message should be sent to those planning, or thinking of coming to the country illegally when they aren't entitled to asylum,” he said. “They should realize that if they give money to a trafficker to bring them to Greece they will lose it.”

The authorities plan to close the notorious Moria camp on the island of Lesbos and replace it with a closed facility that will process new arrivals and people whose asylum applications were rejected. About 36,400 migrants were being held in overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands close to Turkey by mid-November, according to the UNHCR. Greek authorities hope to move up to 20,000 of them to the mainland by the end of the year.

More on this subject: Migration crisis

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