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Greece Insists Hotspots Ready on Feb. 15, Kos Mayor Calls for Vote

Archive photo of Syrian refugees lining up to board a night ferry from the Greek island of Kos to Athens. Photo © UNHCR/S.Baltagiannis

Archive photo of Syrian refugees lining up to board a night ferry from the Greek island of Kos to Athens. Photo © UNHCR/S.Baltagiannis

Five screening centers on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros, will be ready on February 15, to manage the registration procedure for the ever-growing number of refugees entering Europe through Greece, Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos in Brussels on Tuesday.

The Greek government is scrambling to meet the deadline for the five screening centers after the EU threatened to expel Greece from the Schengen zone. The country may also face a possible suspension from the US visa waiver program due to its inefficient management of the refugee crisis.

In the meantime, however, the city council on the island of Kos has agreed to hold a referendum on the issue.

“I have instructed the municipality’s director general to look into referendum procedures so that Kos residents can decide whether they are for or against the construction of a hotspot,” Kos Mayor George Kyritsis said, adding that the government has no national plan and that Kos is being “blackmailed into a decision” by the EU.

The hotspots are expected once operational to provide temporary shelter to some 7,500 people.

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