First hotspot in­au­gu­rated on Lesvos

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The Euro­pean Union’s Mi­gra­tion Com­mis­sioner Dim­itris Avramopou­los yes­ter­day in­au­gu­rated Greece’s first refugee screen­ing cen­ter, or “hotspot,” on the east­ern Aegean is­land of Lesvos, warn­ing, how­ever, that the ul­ti­mate suc­cess of the sys­tem re­lied on mi­grant co­op­er­a­tion.

“The mes­sage for ev­ery­body is to fol­low the rules,” Avramopou­los said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence along with Lux­em­bourg For­eign Min­is­ter Jean As­sel­born and Greece’s Al­ter­nate Min­is­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Pol­icy Yian­nis Mouza­las. Lux­em­bourg cur­rently holds the EU’s ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency.

Asy­lum seek­ers wish­ing to set­tle in North­ern Europe are of­ten re­luc­tant to ap­ply for pro­tec­tion out of fear of be­ing stranded in Greece. Lodg­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion, Avramopou­los said, was cru­cial if Europe’s refugee re­lo­ca­tion scheme was to op­er­ate.

Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent Martin Schulz can­celed his visit.

Of­fi­cials made an on-site in­spec­tion of the fa­cil­ity, which is hosted at a former mi­grant de­ten­tion cen­ter at Mo­ria.

“If this had taken place 10 months ago, we could have avoided what we went through this sum­mer,” Avramopou­los said. “More im­por­tantly, we would have been able to treat all those peo­ple who are seek­ing for a bet­ter life in Europe in a more hu­mane man­ner,” he said.

Ad­di­tional hotspots on Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros are ex­pected to be fully op­er­a­tional by end-Novem­ber.

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