Greece launches enclosed camp for asylum seekers

Greece has inaugurated a new type of enclosed controlled reception and identification camp for asylum seekers on the outskirts of Vathy town on Samos island aimed to improve conditions for refugees, migrants and local communities.

The camp, funded by the European Union (EU), is the first of the five structures under construction in five Aegean Sea islands (Samos, Kos, Leros, Chios, Lesvos) that have received the bulk of the influx of irregular arrivals since 2015, reports Xinhua news agency.

The first 500 asylum seekers who were living in dire conditions in an overcrowded centre nearby were scheduled to be transferred to the new facility on Monday, local officials told Xinhua news agency on Sunday.

The new camp has the capacity to accommodate some 3,000 people in 240 houses and common spaces, such as kitchens and playgrounds, offering residents improved living conditions.

“We are now implementing a new model in the camps. These enclosed controlled centres provide on the one hand much better living conditions, a lot more space for each asylum seeker with all the necessary facilities, but at the same time increase security provisions for the benefit of asylum seekers, the staff and local community,” Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi told media.

“We remain ready for any additional pressure that might happen because of Afghanistan,” he added, stressing that Europe should have a common European response to such challenges and crises.

The new type of camps reflects the EU’s willingness for a new more effective European management of the refugee, migrant flows, Beate Gminder, Deputy Director General in charge of the “Task Force Migration Management” in the European Commission’s Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs, said during the event.

“They (the new camps) offer a kitchen, they offer a room, they offer a dignified place to stay, and they also offer enough space for the authorities to work so that they can decide very quickly on the asylum claim of each of the applicants,” she told the media.

The construction of the camp on Samos cost 43 million euros ($50 million), according to Manos Logothetis, Secretary General of Reception of Asylum Seekers at the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum.

The EU has allocated over 270 million euros in recent months for the construction of new facilities in Greece.

However, some NGOs have complained about the “prison-like” barbed-wire fence, surveillance cameras and the restriction of movement of those whose asylum claims have been rejected.

Daniyal Mohammadi, a 23-year-old man from Afghanistan, who lived near Vathy, said he would prefer another solution rather than a new facility.

“I don’t want the new camp. I want to go. I need residence, I need passport, ID. I have to go. I have to work,” he said.