Government out to appease locals over migrants

27 November 2016
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With patience running thin among local communities and migrants at overcrowded camps across the eastern Aegean, government officials said that the best solution would be to speed up the asylum process and create new reception facilities on the mainland as well as the islands.

“Both of these must happen with the initiative of the Greek government, despite the problems, the reactions and the adversities,” a source told the newspaper.

The sense of urgency has also been heightened by the recent threat by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to walk away from a deal that has substantially stemmed the flows to the European Union.

The problems came to the fore again after a deadly fire at the Moria hot spot on Lesvos last week led to the death of two people, prompting a storm of criticism aimed at authorities for failing to meet the required fire safety regulations.

However, the case for yet more facilities on the islands may be easier said than done, as Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has blamed delays in their operation on the reactions by local officials.

Plans to create a new so-called hot spot on the site of a former landfill on Chios have split the island’s municipal council, while many locals are calling for the removal of migrants from the islands.

“There is no way to compensate locals whose cars were torched or whose shops were damaged in the recent riots,” Deputy Mayor Giorgos Karamanis, who is responsible for migration issues.

“We do not know what to tell locals when they ask for help,” he said.

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