Greece to overhaul migrant camps and achieve 'air-tight' borders

Greece announced a plan on Wednesday to massively overhaul its overcrowded migrant camps on islands facing Turkey and make borders 'air-tight' against a feared new surge of asylum-seekers, AFP reports."Decongesting the islands is a priority at this stage," the government's special coordinator for migration Alkiviadis Stefanis, a former army general and chief of staff, told a news conference."These actions are designed to show our determination in dealing with the migrant-refugee crisis," said Stefanis, who is also deputy defence minister.

The government wants to make borders "air-tight" and will hire 400 additional guards for the land border with Turkey and 800 for the islands, he said.Three camps are to be closed, on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, currently housing over 27,000 people under terrible conditions which have been repeatedly castigated by rights groups. They have a nominal capacity of just 4,500.The Greek government said it would replace the camps with new closed facilities for identification, relocation and deportation with a capacity of at least 5,000 people each.Smaller camps on the islands of Kos and Leros are also to be remodelled along these lines and enlarged, Stefanis said.Instead of being allowed to move freely in and out of the camps, asylum-seekers will now be locked up until they are granted refugee status and relocated to the mainland, or they are rejected and sent back to Turkey, officials said.In the new camps, asylum-seekers will stay in containers and have access to refectories, schools, and places of worship, Stefanis said.The government has vowed to relocate 20,000 asylum-seekers to camps on the mainland by early 2020.

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