Greece pledged to open five migrant processing centers, during talks with its European Union partners in Athens Saturday.
The first so-called “hotspot” reception center is expected to open in Mitilini of the island of Lesbos in the next 10 days, according to Luxembourg’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn. Those centers are important for relocating and distributing asylum-seekers in other European countries, Asselbon said.
“In Mitilini, the first receptions centers will be operational in a week to 10 days, and on four other islands we will have installed these ‘hotspots’ these reception centers,” he said. “Good, I will repeat it one more time, without this, there is no way to organize relocations, a distribution of the seekers in other European countries. So it is in the interest of Greece, and it is in the interest of the European Union.”
Earlier this week, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) welcomed EU efforts to support frontline member states receiving large numbers of migrants, but warned strates not to turn “hotspots” into “detention centers in disguise.”
The wave of migrant and refugees continues, with hundreds taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea every day in the worst European refugee crisis since World War II.
The International Organization for Migration says 2,989 migrants have died in 2015 while attempting to cross the Mediterranean and 580,238 have landed on European shores to escape war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The 15-member U.N. Security Council voted to authorize the European Union and other nations to board, search, and seize vessels suspected of human trafficking in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya.
(A group of refugees disembark an inflatable boat after reaching the Greek island of Lesvos. Photo: UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis)