The Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis rejected comments by President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, who said that “a year after the catastrophic fire in the refugee camp on Lesvos, thousands continue to live in poor conditions and with few prospects.”
Sassoli, who made the remarks on social media, also urged the “European Union and its Member States must step up their efforts to provide humane reception to asylum seekers. “This is our common responsibility,” said Sassoli.
In response to the post, Greece’s Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, comments: “Indeed, Mr. President, the Member States should offer more solidarity to the new Pact.”
Rejecting Mr. Sassoli’s criticisms, Mr. Mitarakis stated that “most people have left the islands after the fire and conditions are much better than in Moria. Thanks to DG Home, new centers are being built, in Samos it opens on September 18, offering much better conditions “.
Full Statement by Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis:
“A year ago, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis was averted in Moria. The fire that broke out threatened the lives of thousands of people and destroyed the camp completely.
“More than 10,000 men, women and children were transported safely to Mavrovouni. Under extremely difficult conditions, in just a few days, we managed to build a temporary facility.
“It was an emergency solution, but infrastructure projects and interventions are continuing till today so as to improve living conditions.
“Mavrovouni did not turn into a ‘bomb’ for public health as some predicted. It is also a fact that the camps did not contribute to the increase of Covid-19 cases, while at the same time the vaccination process in the structures is developing smoothly. Today, 3338 asylum seekers live in Mavrovouni. For the first time in years, the number of residents on all the islands dropped below 5,000.
“In a few days, Samos will have its own, closed, controlled structure. With high tech security measures and safeguarded decent living conditions. The area of the old facility will return to the municipality and the inhabitants.
“We managed to regain control. We reduced flows, we reduced residents, we minimized the impact on local communities. With the implementation of the National Migration Strategy, we have turned an uncontrollable crisis into a manageable situation.
“Moria, like the crisis in Evros, has proven that we can respond even under the most extreme conditions and thus manage emergencies in a successful way.’’