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New shelters for refugees planned on the mainland

Featured New shelters for refugees planned on the mainland

The Greek government is mulling the creation of more accommodation facilities for asylum seekers on the mainland amid efforts to decongest camps on eastern Aegean islands.

Authorities plan to set up about 15 accommodation centers in Livadia, Lamia, Ioannina, Arta, Fokida, Pyrgos and Sparti. There are also plans to create up to three on Crete and up to four in northern Greece. The aim is to share out the burden across the country.

Sources say each structure will be designed to hold between 1,000 and 2,000 people. Authorities are said to want strict monitoring at the mainland facilities. For that reason, residents will be given identity cards that they will need to enter the shelters. Breaking rules of conduct will entail penalties such as benefit cuts. Officials have not ruled out the possibility of setting up camps with tents on the mainland if flows continue unabated.

The need for more accommodation space is accentuated by the expiration in March 2020 of a scheme which saw asylum seekers being provided with free housing at hotels and apartment complexes. About 8,500 are currently covered by the program which, however, has fallen below authorities’ expectations.

According to official figures, an estimated 35,687 asylum seekers are currently crammed into the five hotspots on Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros. An additional 22,200 live at 29 mainland facilities.