The Greek authorities began on Monday September 20 to transfer nearly 300 asylum seekers from the Vathy camp to the new center ” firm “ from the Greek island of Samos, a few hours after a major fire ravaged the old camp, Agence France-Presse (AFP) found. Some 350 asylum seekers are still living in unsanitary conditions in the camp which has been stretching outside the city of Vathy since the 2015 migration crisis.
The first bus dropped off 22 people on Monday morning in the new Zervou camp, surrounded by barbed wire and closed by magnetic gates. Inaugurated on Saturday, it is the first of five structures “Controlled and closed access” funded by the European Union on the five Greek islands which receive the most migrants arriving from neighboring Turkish coasts.
“Two hundred and seventy of them declared voluntarily that they wanted to be transferred to the camp” de Zervou, said Manos Logothetis, general secretary for asylum at the Greek migration ministry, on Sunday evening. He assured at the scene of the fire “To have no reason to believe that they set on fire” at the Vathy camp. The disaster broke out on Sunday evening in abandoned barracks and caused no casualties, before being brought under control at the start of the night.
The local population opposed to the new camp
On the public channel ERT Monday morning, Mr. Logothetis however assured that he was “Usual” that asylum seekers burn things they do not want to take with them on a transfer. Fire “Was not a surprise, we were prepared for it”, he said, adding that 200 migrants would be transferred on Monday and Tuesday.
“Today is a historic day”, he continued, rejoicing at the prospect of the imminent opening of the new facilities, which bring “Security and humanitarian values” asylum seekers. But in Samos the population is opposed to it, and demands the outright relocation of all migrants from the island to the Greek mainland or other European countries.
Migrant rights organizations have denounced the closed nature of the new camp, where migrants will only be allowed to go out during the day with electronic badges and where a detention center is planned for those who have refused asylum.
The Vathy camp has long been criticized for its unsanitary conditions, a veritable slum where rats roamed. It housed nearly 7,000 asylum seekers at its peak between 2015 and 2016, for an initial capacity of 680 people.
A year ago, the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, also criticized for its unsanitary conditions, was reduced to ashes by two successive fires, leaving some 13,000 migrants homeless for several days.