Asylum seekers descend from a large fishing vessel used to transport them from Turkey to a Greek island. October 11, 2015. Credit: HRW
Palestinian refugees seeking humanitarian asylum in Greece have voiced deep concern over their fate after the Greek government announced earlier this week that it will begin building closed camps for migrants on its Aegean islands in March and is aiming to send 200 rejected asylum seekers back to Turkey each week.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said the camps will be able to host up to 20,000 migrants for three months at a time.
Mitarachi told Greek radio station Skai that the camps would be ready by the summer and construction will begin on five islands in the eastern Aegean Sea -- Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.
He noted that the entry and exit of migrants will be limited in the camps and they will be allowed to go out during the day depending on certain rules, while the camps will be closed at night.
Mitarachi said Turkey has fully cooperated with the return of migrants.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) put the number of migrants entering Greece in 2019 at 74,613.
In 2019, Turkish authorities held nearly 455,000 irregular migrants across the country, including about 60,000 trying to cross the Mediterranean.
As many as 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, 175,000 each in 2017 and 2016 and 146,000 in 2015.
Palestinian refugees continue to risk their lives onboard the “death boats” to Greece, rummaging around for a momentary respite from the daily scenes of bloodshed, destruction, and dislodgement. Rights groups have kept record of the death of hundreds of refugees onboard Greece-bound ships.
Activists estimate that around 4,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria are taking cover on such Greek islands as Lesbos, Mytilene, Chios, Leros, and Kos, among other areas.