(Greece) – Greece is scheduled to close its current refugee detention centers in order to open new ones. There are currently around 56,000 refugees and migrants living in the country living in makeshift and state run camps. Most of these refugees have applied for asylum, and Greece is committed to processing the applications as fast as possible. However, refugees and migrants are experiencing long wait times and moral in the camps is low.
Meanwhile, the government is also committed to improving the quality of life for the refugees while they wait for their asylum applications to be processed. The numbers of refugees in Greece are particularly high now because a swap deal that the European Union arranged between Greece and Turkey is now suspended. The government’s plan is to replace around 75% of the state run camps and detention centers and create new ones. These new camps will be built in the same way as the Elaionas facilities, which are located in Athens. Here, migrants live in prefabricated homes and have both running water and electricity.
Yiannis Mouzalas, the Migrant Policy Minister, has called the plan ambitious and has said that it is too early to judge how successful it will be. The government has promised to move migrants away from the abandoned Hellinikon airport, which is located near Athens and also the camp that is located at the port of Piraeus. Mouzalas is scheduled to meet with the head of the Central Union of Municipalities, Girogos Patoulis, in order to discuss any further plans.
The first step is to assess the conditions of various facilities within Greece. There are currently 42 facilities located throughout the country. So far, it has been determined that the facilities in Schisto (in Attica), Diavata, and Lagadikia (in Thessaloniki), will remain open while the camps at Nea Kavala and Herso, both located in Northern Greece, are amongst those that will close. The government predicts that it will keep roughly 25% of the facilities open and will close the others.