Greece Scrambles to Address Refugee Crisis

ATHENS (AFP) — Greece’s conservative government on Wednesday reinstated the migration ministry six months after scrapping it, amid frantic efforts to relocate tens of thousands of asylum-seekers from dismal island camps.

The government said it had appointed former deputy labor minister Notis Mitarachi as migration minister.

Children play inside the Moria refugee camp on the Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece.  (AP file photo)

Mitarachi is from Chios, one of the Aegean islands near Turkey that is facing acute migration pressure.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made migration a subdivision of the police ministry when he came to power in July.

A retired general was later appointed as special coordinator for migration as the population of asylum-seekers in Greek island camps reached crisis conditions.

In the largest camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos there are more than 19,000 asylum-seekers in a camp with a capacity for 2,840.

The situation is equally severe on other islands and living conditions have been repeatedly criticized by rights groups and medical charities.

The government announced plans in November to build larger camps on Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, where there are nearly 42,000 immigrants and refugees.

But the plans have been strongly opposed by local officials, who want smaller facilities after hosting thousands of asylum- seekers for the past five years.

Strike action and protests have been called on Lesbos, Samos and Chios next week.

© Agence France-Presse

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