The planned refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos should be ready for reception next winter. “The exact time has not yet been determined, but next winter there will be no such camp as there is now,” said Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis on Monday during a visit to the existing camp on Lesbos, together with EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson.
The new accommodations planned with the EU needed extensive planning, Mitarakis said. The EU Commission needed time to provide the budget, the Greek state to develop plans. “Work will start in early summer,” he promised.
EU Interior Commissioner Johansson made it clear that the new “reception center” for migrants would not be a closed facility, as had previously been widely criticized. People are allowed to leave the camp, of course, but exit and return are controlled, she said.
The former Moria camp on Lesbos was completely destroyed in a fire last September. Since then, people have lived in a makeshift tent camp, in Camp Kara Tepe II. According to the Greek Ministry of Citizenship, there are currently around 6,500 refugees – with a capacity of 10,000 places. Aid organizations describe the situation, as before at Camp Moria, as catastrophic and inhumane.
The EU and Greece had promised to quickly set up adequate camps on Lesbos and the other Greek refugee islands. The EU is to provide around 270 million euros for this. Johansson is expected to hold further talks with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and aid organizations on Tuesday in Athens.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) criticized Johansson’s visit to “promote” the establishment of new camps before next winter. This shows “the parallel universe in which the heads of state and government of the EU live. Thousands of men, women and children still suffer every day in Europe’s camps on Samos and Lesbos. Nevertheless, nothing indicates that the model of curbing flight and Migration has ever been questioned by the EU, although in the last five years it has created hellish places like Moria and Vathy (Camp on Samos, note), as well as recurring emergencies, “said Stephan Oberreit, MSF operations director in Greece, in a statement sent to the APA. Repeating the “containment model with a new label” is the “best recipe for disaster, and that is exactly what these new camps are”. New Morias would be “replicated” all the time.