EU en­voy meets strug­gling is­land chiefs

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Mi­gra­tion Dim­itris Avramopou­los has told the may­ors of five east­ern Aegean is­lands that have borne the brunt of the mi­gra­tion cri­sis that their de­mand for the de­con­ges­tion of over­crowded re­cep­tion cen­ters will be achieved through fur­ther co­op­er­a­tion with Turkey as part of the deal signed with Brus­sels to stem flows into Europe.

“Man­ag­ing the refugee and mi­grant is­sue is a Euro­pean and a na­tional chal­lenge,” Avramopou­los said yes­ter­day, adding that the deal be­tween Turkey and the EU, signed in March, must con­tinue be­ing im­ple­mented and ex­pe­dited.

To this end, se­nior In­te­rior Min­istry of­fi­cials and Euro­pean Com­mis­sion del­e­gates paid a visit to Ankara yes­ter­day to or­ga­nize the weekly re­turns of refugees and mi­grants to Turkey as stip­u­lated in the March deal.

Re­fer­ring to the poor liv­ing con­di­tions of many mi­grants, Avramopou­los said “the re­cent harsh weather con­di­tions have ex­posed some short­ages” and called on the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees to im­me­di­ately set up the win­ter shel­ters funded by the EU Com­mis­sion. He also added that hot-spot co­or­di­na­tors must be de­ployed to their posts as soon as pos­si­ble, and in­sisted on the need for co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

The may­ors, who have formed a uni­fied front in their bid for the im­me­di­ate trans­fer to the Greek main­land of some 1,500 to 2,000 mi­grants, said their meet­ing with Avramopou­los was pos­i­tive and con­struc­tive.

Sources said that hun­dreds of these mi­grants on Lesvos, Chios and Samos are ready for re­lo­ca­tion as their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions have been pro­cessed, while oth­ers be­long to vul­ner­a­ble groups such as preg­nant women, chil­dren and the el­derly. Samos Mayor Michalis An­gelopou­los de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as cru­cial and re­it­er­ated the need for the prob­lem to be dealt with col­lec­tively.

Speak­ing to re­porters, Avramopou­los said he will dis­cuss “ev­ery pos­si­ble ini­tia­tive to sup­port the is­lands, in­clud­ing mea­sures of eco­nomic sup­port.”

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the ques­tion of fi­nan­cial aid to the is­lands was also raised at the meet­ing, as the is­lands them­selves have footed most of the bill since the cri­sis ar­rived on their shores. Lesvos Mayor Spy­ros Gali­nos said funds have been drawn from lo­cal bud­gets to cover the op­er­at­ing costs of hot spots and re­cep­tion cen­ters on the is­lands.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.