Migrants clash with police outside the Kara Tepe camp, Lesbos, Greece,  3 February 2020 | Photo: Reuters/Elias Marcou 
Migrants clash with police outside the Kara Tepe camp, Lesbos, Greece, 3 February 2020 | Photo: Reuters/Elias Marcou 

Greece is putting a temporary hold on plans to build migrant detention camps on the Aegean islands. The move follows fierce local opposition to the new centers.

The migration affairs minister, Notis Mitarakis, announced on Monday that plans for the new closed camps for migrants, details of which were released last week, would be put on hold until the demands by authorities on the islands had been discussed.

"I‘ll put the plan on hold until we discuss (it)," Mitarakis said during a televised debate with the North Aegean regional governor, Kostas Moutzouris.

"One week deadline for local authorities to designate other sites for closed structures on the islands," Mitarakis wrote on Instagram. "All ready to implement the government plan to close down anarchist open structures and accelerate asylum and return policy."

The Greek government wants to replace the overcrowded migrant camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos with detention centers. It has already issued land appropriation orders to clear large tracts of forest, AP reports.

Locals on the islands, which lie close to Turkey, have been staging protests for weeks against the planned construction of the closed facilities. Last week in Athens hundreds of islanders joined a rally to demand that the asylum seekers be transferred to the Greek mainland. On Sunday night, residents in Lesbos created a huge Greek flag by painting stones blue and white and writing the word „OXI“ (Greek for "no").

Since a 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey, almost all migrants arriving on the Greek islands have been accommodated in camps while they wait for their asylum claim to be processed. Living conditions for some 50,000 migrants in and around the facilities have been described as ‚horrific‘.

With AP, Reuters

 

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