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Greece to shut down 3 refugee camps

A baby is seen at Athens International Airport as 234 refugees are transferred to Lyon of France within the EU Relocation Programme of International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Athens, Greece on 18 October, 2017 [Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency]
A baby is seen at Athens International Airport as 234 refugees are transferred to Lyon of France within the EU Relocation Programme of International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Athens, Greece on 18 October, 2017 [Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency]

Greece will shut down three major refugee camps, according to officials, Anadolu Agency reports.

The camps will be replaced by closed facilities with a capacity of 1,000 to 5,000 people, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Wednesday.

These camps will be built on Lesvos, Samos and Chios Islands by next July, said Deputy Minister of National Defense Alkiviadis Stefanis.

One of Greece’s biggest camps, Moria on Lesvos Island has been repeatedly criticized by NGOs for inhumane conditions.

It was designed to host 3,000 people but more than 15,000 are currently living there in horrible conditions.

Currently, around 35,000 refugees are living on the eastern Aegean islands.

READ: Refugees claim Greece abused them, forced them to return to Turkey

Greek conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt said: “Europe regards arrival countries such as Greece as convenient parking lot for refugees and migrants. Is that European solidarity? No! I will no longer accept this.”

The Greek premier promised to tighten its borders by passing a controversial new asylum law earlier this month, aiming to control the number of migrants entering the country.

The bill will ease the pressure on the Eastern Aegean islands by speeding the procedures needed to return migrants to Turkey who do not meet the requirements to be granted asylum.

About 62,190 asylum seekers and refugees have entered Greece since Nov. 17, according to data from the UN.

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