Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has renewed calls on Germany and other countries to take in migrants and refugees currently stuck in Greece. At the same time, his government plans to expedite deportations in the new year.
Prime Minister Mitsotakis admitted that he had failed before to persuade other EU countries to accept any of the migrants currently stranded in Greece.
With an estimated 80,000 asylum seekers currently in the country, Greece is witnessing one of its most challenging chapters since the height of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016.
"We need to develop a European asylum and migration pact, like what the European Commission promised, and in dealing with this problem, we need more burden sharing," Mitsotakis said in an interview with the German weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
"The idea is that a portion of the asylum application process be carried out in other countries."
Dire situation – especially for underage minors
The registration camps for migrants on the Greek islands are severely overcrowded, with some of the facilities running at four or five times their intended capacity. Approximately 39,000 live in and around the camps on the island Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, according to government estimates. The total official capacity of those camps put together is approximately 7,500 people.
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis has floated the ideas of transferring some of the migrants to other EU countries directly from the island of Lesbos, focusing in particular on unaccompanied minors. However, Mitsotakis said he had failed to persuade EU states to even accept around 3,000 unaccompanied migrant minors currently in Greece (out of a total of about 5,000).
Following a recent inspection of the infamous Moria camp on Lesbos, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the situation there was catastrophic.
Greek government cracks down on irregular migration
As part of the Greek government's ongoing plans to address the challenges posed by migration, Mitsotakis said that underage migrant minors deserved to be provided with accommodation where "they will live and be fed as dictated by their tender age" and signaled that the government would be taking measures to that end next year.
However, Mitsotakis' government also decided last month to tighten the overall asylum provisions in Greece, announcing plans to boost border patrols and build a number of closed camp facilities designed to detain thousands of migrants.
These new camp facilities would primarily be designed with those migrants in mind who are facing deportation back to Turkey under the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement after failing with their asylum applications.
with dpa, AFP