The strict security measures at the new camps have been criticized.
In Greece the first “closed” refugee camp on the island of Samos opened on Saturday, news agencies said. Dozens of human rights organizations have criticized the new camps for jeopardizing the rights of asylum seekers.
The new camp is surrounded by barbed wire fences. The camps are monitored with cameras and electric doors, among other things. The camps also have X-ray equipment and detention centers.
The European Union has funded the construction of new refugee camps on five Greek islands with EUR 276 million. In addition to Samos, camps will be set up in Leros, Kos, Chios and Lesbos.
The Samos camp is a pilot project.
“The controlled model will be gradually transferred to all islands and also to mainland Greece,” the Minister of Migration Notis Mitarachi said according to Reuters news agency.
Greek authorities have defended the new refugee centers on the grounds that they have better accommodation, running water, toilets and safer conditions than the current miserable refugee camps. The Samos camp, for example, was designed to accommodate only about 700 refugees
at worst there were up to ten times as many asylum seekers.
On Monday, some 600 asylum seekers at the Samos camp will be moved to new premises and the old, infamous camp due to its circumstances, will be demolished.
Human rights organizations according to the strict restrictions of the new camps undermine the opportunities and rights of asylum seekers to receive assistance. Closed institutions also endanger the mental health of asylum seekers, organizations fear.
The UN refugee organization has also intervened in the closed institutions.
“What is worrying about the new institutions is their‘ closure ’. Asylum seekers need protection, they are not criminals or a threat to society. They are people who need help, ”a representative of the refugee organization Mireille Girard said according to Reuters.
Greece was the main route for more than a million people aspiring to Europe in 2015, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The rise of the extremist Islamic Taliban movement in Afghanistan has once again raised fears of a new wave of refugees towards Europe.