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Greek Gov’t Migrant Center Plan Irks Islanders, Refugee Kids to get Schooling

Archive photo of refugees from Syria reaching the Greek Island of Lesvos from Turkey in an inflatable boat. Photo © UNHCR/A. Zavallis

Photo © UNHCR/A. Zavallis

Despite repeated pleas by authorities from the Greek islands bearing the brunt of the ongoing migrant influx, the government is making plans to “decongest” facilities, improve existent centers or create new ones without however providing a specific time frame or locations.

Local authorities and tourism professionals called on the government last week to re-examine plans to construct hotspots at major tourist locations across the country, including the islands — Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Leros and Samos — that have already suffered a blow to their economies in the last year.

Lesvos is currently hosting 5,484 migrants, with the mayor there, Spyros Galinos, speaking of “extremely dangerous conditions”. Mr Galinos is requesting that Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas transfer refugees from Lesvos to mainland facilities so as “to avert far worse developments”.

According to reports, the ministry is planning to close down the centers in Sindos and Oraiokastro near Thessaloniki, and in Nea Kavala. Reception facilities at Diavata and Vassilika, northern Greece, will undergo upgrades while a new center for minors is expected to open at the Amygdaleza facility on the outskirts of Athens, next Monday.

Meanwhile, the government is currently seeking educators in order to proceed with plans to offer some 22,000 refugee children schooling by the end of the month either at the refugee centers or at nearby public schools.

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