Alternate Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Friday outlined a plan for the relief of the islands coping with the influx of refugees and migrants, while addressing the Greek Parliament.
Mouzalas noted that a forced evacuation of these islands would “kill” the EU-Turkey agreement and for this reason cannot be accepted by the government, “though an easy and popular solution”. The minister did not deny that the flows arriving on the islands have changed from being 80 pct refugees to being 70-80 pct “prima facie migrants” thus putting new pressures on islanders.
The government intends to separate any criminal and unruly elements from refugees that are peaceful and law-abiding, with the evacuation focusing on those that will not be returned to Turkey and those considered “vulnerable”, including most minors.
At the same time, authorities will set up new hospitality structures for families and “closed facilities” for unruly elements to separate these two populations. Mouzalas stressed that this did not mean the government was making new hotspots to increase the migrant population in total.
The minister also announced plans to reinforce policing on these islands, strengthen the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) presence, reinforce refugee committees with judges and step up the rate of returns to 150 a day.
Regarding the situation on the mainland, Mouzalas said that camps in northern Greece had already been emptied of some 7,000 individuals and half of them will close.