Vitsas: Reports of new hotspots, refugee returns to islands ‘deliberate lies’

Rumours claiming that thousands of refugees will be returned or that new reception and identification centres will be set up on the islands of the Aegean are “deliberate lies”, Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas said in a letter to heads of regional authorities and the mayors of five islands in the north and south Aegean on Monday.

According to the minister, the reports “distorted reality” and “no summit conclusions or agreement concerns our islands”. He stressed that the situation on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros will remain as it is today, with just one hotspot per island and plans to cut back on the numbers populating each centre.

“Anything else is a lie,” the minister added, noting that the way to decrease numbers in the camps was to speed up asylum procedures and then transfer camp residents to either the Greek mainland or to the other EU member-states, as well as through returns that are either voluntary or take place under the terms of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement.