Is­land may­ors seek trans­fer of mi­grants

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The may­ors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros yes­ter­day jointly pre­sented their de­mands for mea­sures to ease se­vere over­crowd­ing at mi­grant re­cep­tion cen­ters on their is­lands dur­ing a meet­ing in Athens with Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment sources, the meet­ing was held in a cor­dial cli­mate and both sides agreed it re­mained im­per­a­tive that an agree­ment be­tween Ankara and the Euro­pean Union to curb hu­man smug­gling across the Aegean must not be al­lowed to col­lapse. How­ever, though the sources de­scribed the may­ors’ de­mands as “log­i­cal,” it re­mained un­clear what ac­tion, if any, the gov­ern­ment plans to re­spond with.

In the meet­ing with Tsipras, which was also at­tended by se­nior of­fi­cials of the Cen­tral Union of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and Com­mu­ni­ties of Greece (KEDKE), the may­ors em­pha­sized that the sit­u­a­tion on the is­lands was very tense and re­quired im­me­di­ate ac­tion. They called for the trans­fer of hun­dreds of mi­grants to fa­cil­i­ties on the Greek main­land, the im­prove­ment of the asy­lum process so that mi­grants can leave is­lands with­out de­lay, and mea­sures to boost lo­cal economies which have been hit hard by the refugee cri­sis on top of the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Separately, in com­ments to the web­site, Mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Yian­nis Mouza­las re­marked yes­ter­day that the mass trans­fer of mi­grants to the Greek main­land would lead the EU-Tur­key deal “to col­lapse.” He added that while in 2015 refugees ac­counted for 70 to 80 per­cent of ar­rivals, now 70 per­cent of ar­rivals are eco­nomic mi­grants.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port yes­ter­day by the Athens-Mace­do­nian News Agency, the in­te­rior and de­fense min­is­ters of sev­eral Balkan and Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries are plan­ning to meet in Vi­enna on Fe­bru­ary 8 to dis­cuss ways of bol­ster­ing their bor­ders against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

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