Local authorities on the islands of Samos, Chios and Leros are up in arms less than 24 hours after the government announced the opening of five pre-departure centers on the five Aegean islands with capacities mostly exceeding the number of refugees and migrants currently been hosted there. Local authorities speak of additional congestion rather of de-congestion.
The mayor of East Samos and almost the whole of the city council announced on Wednesday night that they will resign should the plan to open a pre-departure center that will host 7,000 (5,000 +40%) refugees and migrants be implemented.
“The numbers are explosive, completely alarming, and it is certain that they will lead to other diverting behaviors,” Mayor Giorgos Strantzos told Skai TV on Thursday morning.
Describing the government’s ambition to host so many thousands of people on Samos as “problematic,” Strantzos stressed “the island will become a floating prison.”
While local authorities agree with the closure of the hotspot in Vathi, they reject that the new center will host a number of people larger than the number of local residents (less than 7,000.)
Construction of the pre-departure center started two months ago for a capacity of 1,200 people. It is expected to be ready in January or February the latest.
Objection came also from the island of Leros with mayor Michalis Kollias telling media “we don;t want again to make bad headlines.”
Kollias told ethnos.gr that the current capacity of the Identification and Accommodation Center is 860 people. The pre-departure center is scheduled to host 1,400 (1,000+40%).
“The increase from 860 to 1,400 people is congestion, not de-congestion,” Kollias said. He added that they have not been informed about what will happen with the other Center currently hosting 150 vulnerable people as well as the section in the hospital hosting parents with children.
The city council on Chios is expecting to meet and take crucial decisions, tomorrow, Friday.
Both on Samos and Chios there is a strong dissatisfaction as the principle of proportionality both in relation to the local population and in comparison with other islands that raise the burden of migration.
According to the relocation scheme from the islands to mainland, the number of asylum-seekers should be up to 1% when compared to the local population.
Based on the proportionality, Chios should host 2,700 and Samos 1,700, Regional Governor of Northern Aegean, Kostas Moutzouris wrote on social media.
The only island that seems to benefit big from the government plan is Lesvos where 7,000 people will be hosted in the pre-departure center. According to October data, Moria currently hosts 15,623 refugees and migrants. However, also on the island there are voices against the new center saying that Moria should came to its original form and has capacity not exceeding 2,000 people.
Island Currently Capacity Pre-departure
Lesvos 15,623 people 2,840 5,000-7,000
Chios 5,430 1,014 5,000-7,000
Samos 6,810 648 5,000-7,000
Leros 2,283 860 1,000-1,400
Kos 4,004 816 2,000-2,800
According to latest information, the Mayor and 23 out of 25 members of the city council sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to reduce the planned number of refugees and migrants.
This is appalling! Why doesn’t the Greek government keep the refugees on the mainland? Sending larger numbers to the islands is not dealing with the issue. Is this ” Our of sight, out of mind?” Once again mainland Greece is showing a huge lack of care and respect to Greek islanders.