October 22, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Greece opens its first “closed” camp in Samos

Greece opens its first "closed" camp in Samos

Barbed wire, X-ray scanners and magnetic doors: A new “closed” camp for immigrants on the Greek island of Samos, the first of a “new generation” to open on Saturday, is a quarter of a century away at first glance. Hour journey from the main city.

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In a plot of more than 12,000 m2 bordering with double line barbed wire, 300 refugees will be transferred from the slum of Vathi, where they will be evacuated from Monday to Monday. From the city.

“From Samos, we are sending a message to all the islands: pictures of Moria (in Lesbos) or Vathi (unclean camps) are now related to the past,” Greek Migration Minister Notice Mitarachi said at the opening ceremony of the still empty camp.

Divided into several “neighborhoods”, the refugees have access to meals, sports and games, as well as shared kitchens. The containers contain five beds and a wardrobe that leads to Turkish toilets and shared showers, the AFP team found.

According to the Ministry of Immigration, the new installation, previously criticized by several NGOs, will cost 43 million euros.

Detention for rejected refugees

Inside, a detention center is planned for asylum seekers who have been denied asylum and are on trial to return to Turkey.

Similarly on the island of Leros, such a camp should be completed next month and soon on the island of Kos.

In Lesvos, where the Moria camp turned to ashes last year, work has not yet begun and is unlikely to be completed until the fall of 2022, government sources said.

The European Commission has pledged $ 6,276 million to finance five new camps in the Aegean islands, most of which will receive immigrants from neighboring Turkish shores.

“This is the first reception center of the new generation in the Aegean islands,” said Beat Gminder Samos, deputy director general of migration and interior at the European Commission.

In Samos, there were nearly 7,000 refugees between 2015 and 2016 for an initial capacity of 680 in Wathi’s slum.

Of the remaining 550 migrants on the island, about 300 are living in unsanitary conditions and have agreed to transfer to a new camp where they are due to report on Monday.

Fears about the detention of immigrants

But they can only go out during the day, from 8am to 8pm, be transported into town by bus and have to submit their fingerprints and electronic badge at the magnetic gate at the entrance.

Disciplinary sanctions are planned for those who do not return by 8 p.m.

The new centers have been criticized by nearly fifty NGOs, including Amnesty International, for “preventing the effective identification of vulnerable individuals”, “restricting access to refugee services” and “expanding the detrimental effect of detention on public mental health”.

The word “closed” often comes up, “admitted Mireli Girard, the Greek representative to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).” We discussed with the authorities and we were told there were open camps this morning, which is very important, ”she told AFP after the inauguration.

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For her, “Vathi is the worst camp in the whole country, so it is better to close this chapter. It is important that people in the new structure move freely inside and outside the camp to restore normalcy after their arrival. “

Athens continues to congratulate itself on significantly weakening the camps and reducing arrivals by almost 90% from 2019 onwards.

But NGOs explain this decline by refueling immigrants to Turkey condemned by the Greek conservative government.