“Migration is a political hot potato rarely out of the news” read an article of the Sunday Times (2008). And it is true, indeed. It’s all about a long-lasting affair called migration. Which, by the way, remains one of Greece’s political and social thorns, deep under its skin. Entering 2018 has made no change whatsoever and the immediate future looks grim though not uneventful at all.
What a bummer…
Yannis Mouzalas, the Greek Alternate Minister of Immigration Policy was expected to visit the northern Aegean island of Chios on Wednesday, January 3. The General Secretary of the Ministry, Miltiadis Klapas was the man who came instead. According to him, the minister had to make a last-minute cancellation of his trip due to his heavy workload in Athens.
Their visit was a planned working trip aimed at dealing with the hot potato of the safety and comfort of migrants and refugees at the camp of VIAL and the serious attempts to decongest Chios. The government wish not to be faced with last winter’s horrific pictures again, recorded mainly in Moria, on Lesbos, where people kept sleeping –or were trying to survive…- inside tents, during snowstorms and under freezing temperatures.
Klapas visited the hotspot of VIAL where he met with the administration staff and the co-ordinator of the centre and was briefed on the ongoing situation.
At the presser that followed, the General Secretary spoke of the ministry’s plans to place fifty-five (55) containers, in total, around the camp, outside its fenced off area. They will be for the people who are still sleeping in (quite often even makeshift) tents, although wintry temperatures, strong winds and rainfall are part of the everyday life on the island right now.
“The government is planning to place these containers for all those still in tents, and especially the vulnerable groups”, Klapas said, adding that, if everything goes well this time, it is a matter a couple of weeks to tackle the situation.
A few days ago, officials tried to place five of the containers, but locals’ fierce opposition and the stance of the island’s authorities who are against the government, prevented the move. There is a standing interim order -this time- requested by the person whose property, next to VIAL, claims is a privately-owned land that, allegedly, migrants and refugees were given the green light to trespass by placing tents and he is prosecuting high-level authorities for that.
The General Secretary spoke of an overall improved picture but noted, “I am sure existing problems are many and need to be dealt with. However, local and governmental authorities must work closely together on this one. I am appealing to local officials; they must show understanding.” In regards to the “absence” of containers where people could be weather-protected, the ministry’s official said “it is a matter of the negative stance of the municipal authorities (of Chios) and them only”.
Poor conditions of hygiene, to a great extent due to lack of proper sanitary sewers remains a matter of top importance and troubles all sides.
Talking particularly of the measures the government is thinking of taking, Klapas underlined that they are very closely interlinked with the flows, highlighting it all depends on actual arrivals and how these could alter presently given facts.
For now, there is no information on another confirmed date when the competent minister, Yannis Mouzalas, might visit Chios…/IBNA