Greece will not allow an uncontrolled influx of refugees from Afghanistan the way Syria entered the country in 2015, its prime minister said after visiting a new migrant camp near the Turkish border.
“We will not accept the uncontrolled migrant flow we saw in 2015,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, in another sign that he would not allow large numbers of Afghans into his country after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan six weeks ago.
Last month, Greece opened a £37m EU-funded camp on the island of Samos near Turkey, a sprawling facility surrounded by barbed wire.
It has also built a 25-mile fence in the Avros region on the Turkish border.
The new camp, in which air-conditioned containers form family homes and dormitories, is intended to temporarily house 3,000 people while their applications are processed.
About 300 people from Afghanistan, Syria and African countries are already living there, who are placed in the neighborhood by nationality. The base also has basketball courts and playgrounds.
But the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders – MSF – said: “There is no doubt that this new center will further dehumanize and marginalize security-seekers in the EU.
“Millions of euros have been spent on building this facility which comes with military-grade barbed wire fencing and advanced surveillance systems.
“In addition to the mass rejection of asylum applications, this new center is yet another symbol of the complete rejection of refugees and their right to seek asylum.”
In Greece, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan raised fears of a 2015 re-play, when nearly a million asylum seekers, mostly Syrians, crossed over to Greece from Turkey and fled to Europe.
Although Athens welcomed 26 Afghan women lawyers and judges and their families on Thursday, such cases would be exceptions, Mr Mitsotakis said. “They cannot be considered as a pull factor.”
Afghanistan has plunged into an economic crisis, with the International Committee of the Red Cross warning of widespread hunger within weeks.
Before visiting the new Samos camp, Mr Mitsotakis addressed local officials from the island’s former camp at Vathye – once a crowded, rat-infested tent town of 7,000 people, which he called a “camp of shame” and a “demonstration of human dignity”. disgrace” said.
The government is planning more refuge facilities on other islands closer to Turkey, saying they would provide safe housing.
The prime minister said his government’s migration policy had “crushed” the migrant-smuggling network.
“We have been able to send a message to smugglers and their customers that making treacherous travel across the Aegean is probably a waste of money,” Mr Mitsotakis said.
Additional reporting by agencies
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /