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The Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has elected to spend the last day of the year on Lesbos, site of the ongoing refugee drama amidst the pandemic.
The island – and other eastern Aegean outposts – is among the ten top regions in Greece with the highest coronavirus caseloads.
Following the devastating fires that destroyed Moria, Lesbos’ notoriously overcrowded holding centre in September, some 7,500 asylum seekers are being temporarily housed in a controversial tent camp outside the port capital Mytilene.
Visiting the installation Mitsotakis said plans were on course to replace the facility with a permanent structure in the New Year.
The current camp has been described as a disaster by local NGOs with Covid-19 restrictions – in place for most of 2020 – exacerbating what psycho social support experts have described as a mental health crisisamong refugees on Greece’s frontline isles.
We had said we would close Moria. Of course we didn’t expect it to close in the way it did but it finally did close and it was for the best,” said Mitsotakis describing the facility as a vast improvement on Moria.
We had made the joint decision with the president of the European Commission to find a [new] location that local actors would agree on – or at least most would agree with – and I am happy that this has been achieved … so we can move ahead with a permanent structure, that will be much better than this.”
Refugees have been especially hard hit by government measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus with only a limited number allowed out of camps hosting asylum seekers at any one time.
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