Greece opens four refugee centres

Greece opens its four out of five refugee centers to control refugee influx, as some EU members blame Greece's border security over increased number of refugees

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Migrants and refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey, in October 2015

Greece’s four out of five new refugee registration centres are "ready to function and welcome refugees," Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said Tuesday, as some EU members blame Greece's border security over the increased number of refugees they have entered Europe.

The four refugee centres are located on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Leros and Samos, which have been struggling to take its continuous refugee flow under control.

However, a fifth centre on Kos Island will open "in five days," despite heavy opposition from the mayor and residents. Kammenos told reporters in Athens that the influx “impacts” the islands tourism industry.

Each centre will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 refugees in prefab housing, who will spend three days being registered and being sorted between eligibility for the European Union or deported to their country of origin.

Refugees’ fingerprints will also be taken for security checks as a precaution to avoid possible attacks, such as the Paris attacks in November, which were carried out by two men who passed through Greece.

Athens is under heavy pressure to restrain refugees from entering Europe. EU member states gave Greece a three-month ultimatum to keep refugees under control on Friday to save its place in the Schengen passport-free zone.

Although, EU President Donald Tusk told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a meeting that taking Greece out of the Schengen-zone “solves none of our problems.”

The hotspot centres were initially scheduled to open late last year, however it had been delayed repeatedly.

"Greece has honoured its commitments -- we expect that others do the same," junior Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas told reporters.

"We must see if Europe wants to keep its sense of solidarity, or become a space where everyone wants to shut themselves in their own little castles."

In addition, more centres will open in mainland Greece, particularly near Athens and Thessaloniki, to settle registered refugees while their asylum applications are questioned.

TRTWorld and agencies