‘Hotspot’ migrant centers to open in Greece
ATHENS – Agence France-Presse
AFP photoGreece will open four migrant registration centers in time for an EU summit this week, a government source told AFP on Feb. 16, as Athens comes under intense pressure to control the massive influx to Europe.
Four of Greece’s five “hotspot” centers will formally open by Feb. 17 on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Leros and Samos, which have been struggling to cope with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees landing from Turkey in flimsy boats, the source said.
The centers were supposed to open late last year but have faced repeated delays.
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos is expected to visit the hotspots of Leros, Chios and Lesbos on Feb. 16 following a news conference in Athens.
Each facility will have enough prefab housing to accommodate 1,000 arrivals for three days, during which they will be registered, have their fingerprints taken and be sorted between those eligible for asylum in the European Union and those who face eventual deportation.
Security checks will attempt to prevent the entry of jihadists, a pressing concern after two of the men who carried out November’s attacks in Paris sneaked into Europe via Greece, posing as refugees.
The fifth center, on the island of Kos, will be set up slightly later, the source said. Opposition from local authorities and residents, complaining that the influx has damaged their vital tourism industry, has caused delays to the construction work.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who will attend the EU summit in Brussels on Feb. 18 and 19, is facing mounting pressure from EU neighbors to do more to stem the flow of migrants fleeing conflict and misery in the Middle East and elsewhere.