Greece plans to close the overcrowded camp for asylum-seekers and migrants on the Aegean island of Samos by the end of the year, a government minister said Tuesday.
“The situation on Samos is very difficult. It will be closed,” migration minister Notis Mitarakis told the state broadcaster ERT after visiting the camp, located on a hill above the town of Vathy.
A new facility is being constructed about 7 kilometres (4 miles) away, still on the island.
Greece’s announcement came a day after two fires destroyed dozens of tents, huts and container homes over the previous two days.
The authorities suspect the camp was set on fire intentionally and police have detained 22 migrants. The suspects face criminal charges for arson. Local observers speculate that the fires were intended to force the Greek government into relocating the migrant population to the mainland.
Camp Vathy, the refugee camp on Samos, is severely overcrowded, with some 6,800 people living in and around it, a population around 10 times higher than it was built to house.
Migrant camps in Greece have been under quarantine in recent weeks, with authorities trying to keep residents apart from locals.
More than 42,000 people currently live in the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands, including about 5,500 unaccompanied minors. Around 10% of them are under 14 years old, according to police agency Europol.
Sourced by: Daily Sabbah