Greece will build a permanent refugee camp on Lesbos by summer 2021 to replace the facility that burned down last month, the migration minister said yesterday.
Notis Mitarachi said contractors had already been selected to construct the new camps, which will also be built on the islands of Samos, Kos and Leros.
The camps will be closed facilities, with “NATO-style double enclosure” and tightly controlled entry, as well as fire protection systems, Mitarachi said.
“Our goal is to have the permanent facility operating in the summer of 2021” on Lesbos.
Adding that Greece is “moving forward with an ambitious, EU-funded programme for closed camps”, where “entry will be controlled” and residents will be protected with a “NATO-style double enclosure”.
Mitarachi also said that a new facility would provide “dignified” conditions for residents, who, until recently, had been living in the overcrowded and notoriously unsanitary Moria camp.
The camp, which had a capacity for less than 3,000 people but housed an estimated 13,000, was razed in a series of fires on 8 September.
Nearly 7,500 refugees who were made homeless in the fires are currently living in a makeshift tent camp, called Kara Tepe.
Many, however, have complained the makeshift facility, which was built on a former military firing range, has no electricity or running water and only basic bedding.
The Kara Tepe camp has also been ravaged by floods, which were caused by a sudden downpour last Thursday, leaving more than 80 tents needing to be replaced.
Mitarachi said authorities were “taking steps to shield the camp for winter”, including plans to bring housing containers from another camp on Lesbos to Kara Tepe.
The minster also said he hoped the population of Kara Tepe could be decreased to under 5,000 by next summer, as part of a drive to reduce the number of migrants living in Greece.
He added that nearly 7,500 migrants had left Greece already this year, with more than 3,000 additional departures pending.
Mitarachi also said Greece was seeking to discourage further migration by scaling back monetary and accommodation benefits as well as eliminating all funded hotel stays for refugees by the end of the year.
Cyprus, another country at the forefront of the European migration crisis, also introduced similar measures to discourage migration this year.
In September, politicians approved a reduction to the period migrants have to appeal rejected asylum applications from 75 to 14 days.
In the same week, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris warned Cyprus could no longer accept economic migrants because “the reception facilities are literally no longer sufficient, and the country’s capabilities are exhausted”.