A memorandum of cooperation for the construction of a new migrant reception centre on the island of Lesvos by early September 2021, was signed by Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson on Thursday.
The new structure will be built with the cooperation of the Greek authorities, the European Commission and EU agencies (EASO, FRONTEX, EUROPOL, FRA) and will meet all European standards.
It will have “modern and durable infrastructure, provide full medical care and take into account the needs of women, children and families,” according to the Migration and Asylum Ministry announcement.
Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi stated that the construction of the “new closed and controlled facility on Lesvos will allow us to permanently shut down the temporary facility at Mavrovouni, while it will act as a guide for similar centres on other Aegean islands.”
Stays in the facility will be short (up to a few months) until a decision either rejecting or approving requests for asylum is issued.
On her part, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson stated that “with our agreement today, Europe and Greece are working hand in hand for the people on the islands.”
“We will bring decent conditions to migrants and refugees who arrive, as well as supporting the communities on the Greek islands. It is also about fast and fair procedures, so the centres are what they should be – only a temporary stop before either return or integration,” she added.
All the illegal immigrants who are in Lesvos today will have left by Easter 2021, Greek Minister of Civil Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis told The Guardian in September.
“They will all leave. Of the roughly 12,000 refugees here currently, I foresee 6,000 being transferred to the mainland by Christmas and the rest by Easter. The people of this island have gone through a lot. They’ve been very patient,” Chrysochoidis said from Lesvos to the correspondent of the British newspaper.
The minister added that about 70% of asylum seekers in Lesvos are Afghans who will receive refugee status and travel documents.
As for Moria, he described it as a “camp of shame” that now belongs to history.
“Now it belongs to history. It will be cleared up and replaced by olive groves,” said Chrysochoidis, who also denied allegations of violent deportations of other refugees trying to enter Greece.
Moria accommodated almost 10 times that number at its height and was regularly condemned by aid groups for its deplorable conditions, The Guardian explained.