Greek authorities start moving migrants to new camp – The Journal

Greek authorities have started moving asylum seekers living in a squalid camp on the island of Samos to a new settlement on the island, where access will be more tightly controlled

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greek authorities have started moving asylum seekers living in a squalid camp on the island of Samos to a new settlement on the island, access to which will be more strictly controlled.

About 200 people are due to be moved to the new camp in the Samos Hills on Monday, and around 200 more are expected to be transferred on Tuesday.

Authorities have stressed that the new camp, dubbed a “closed center of controlled access” and built to house 3,000 people, will have much better facilities than the old dilapidated camp on the outskirts of the island’s main town. But rights groups have expressed concerns about the controlled nature of the camp, with some describing it as a prison.

Entrance to the European Union-funded facility, worth € 43 million ($ 50 million), will be strictly monitored, with entry open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and access controlled by entry cards and fingerprints. The new facility is relatively remote, and authorities have said a bus will run to and from the main town four times a day.

The old camp on the edge of Vathy, the main town of Samos, will be closed. Originally built to house just over 600 people at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, it quickly became the most overcrowded camp in Greece, with around 7,000 people living in the settlement and a slum that developed around him.

On Sunday evening, a small fire broke out in the old camp, with authorities saying the flames were limited to abandoned structures in one section of the camp. No injuries were reported.

The Greek East Aegean islands like Samos, which lie close to the Turkish coast, have been one of the preferred routes to the European Union for people fleeing poverty and conflict in the Middle East, Asia and in Africa.

But Greece’s conservative government has cracked down on migration, stepping up patrols along its land and sea borders and making it clear that it no longer wants to accept asylum seekers. Authorities were particularly alarmed at the prospect of an increase in the number of Afghans attempting to reach Europe after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said Greece was following developments in Afghanistan “with particular attention”.

Speaking at a meeting with ambassadors of EU countries in Athens, Mitarachi said that “our country will not be a gateway for the flow of illegal migrants to Europe and will continue to follow the protection policy of the EU’s external borders “.

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A man carries migrants’ belongings as they leave an overcrowded refugee camp in the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of all migrants to the new 43 million euros ($ 50 million) the closed supervised installation began on Monday and will end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Security personnel screen migrants as they arrive at the new, closed guarded facility in the village of Zervou, on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, on Monday, September 20, 2021. Transfer of migrants to the new facility, 43 million euros ($ 50 million) the installation began on Monday and will end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

The migrants with their personal effects arrive at the new closed and guarded center in the village of Zervou, on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of migrants to the new center of 43 million euros ($ 50 million) began Monday and will end Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Migrants wait outside the new, closed guarded facility in the village of Zervou, on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of migrants to the new 43 million facility euros ($ 50 million) began Monday and be completed by Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Migrants with their belongings wait to leave an overcrowded refugee camp in the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of all migrants to the new 43 million euros ($ 50 million) the closed supervised installation began on Monday and will end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Migrants leave an overcrowded refugee camp in the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of all migrants to the new, closed, € 43million supervised facility ( $ 50 million) began Monday and be completed by Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Migrants carry their belongings as they leave an overcrowded refugee camp in the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of all migrants to the new 43 million euros ($ 50 million) the closed supervised installation began on Monday and will end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Migrants carry their belongings as they leave an overcrowded refugee camp in the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of all migrants to the new 43 million euros ($ 50 million) the closed supervised installation began on Monday and will end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

A migrant with his cat arrives at a container house in the new, closed guarded facility in the village of Zervou, on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, on Monday, September 20, 2021. The transfer of migrants to the new, 43 million euros ($ 50 million) began on Monday and will end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)

Migrants set off amid a fire in makeshift tents outside the perimeter of the overcrowded refugee camp at the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, Sunday, September 19, 2021. A fire broke out declared to a -close the migrant camp on the Greek island of Samos, forcing its evacuation. The transfer of migrants to the new 43 million euros ($ 50 million) facility was scheduled to start on Monday and end on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Michael Svarnias)


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