Greece has failed to persuade other EU states to accept around 3,000 unaccompanied minors, the Greek prime minister said on Friday, condemning the bloc for failing to show “solidarity”.
“We attempted to reach agreement with all EU states, saying ‘for God’s sake, we are talking about 3,000 children… can they not be shared out among 27 countries so that Europe can show solidarity?’,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament.
“Unfortunately, I regret to say the reply was not positive, and it does not do Europe justice,” he said, adding that there were about 4,000 minors living in unsuitable conditions.
Mitsotakis’ conservative government this week announced a plan to massively overhaul its overcrowded migrant camps on islands facing Turkey and make borders ‘air-tight’ against a feared new surge of asylum-seekers.
According to government figures, there are over 37,000 asylum-seekers on the islands, and hundreds arrive daily, capitalising on mild weather conditions.
The International Organisation for Migration says there are an additional 22,000 people in camps on the mainland, which are nearly full or already past capacity.
On the island of Samos, a local mayor this week threatened to resign in opposition to plans for a new camp to house at least 5,000 people.
There have also been protests in several towns in northern Greece in recent weeks to block attempted relocations of asylum-seekers.
Mitsotakis this week accused the European Union of treating countries on the bloc’s external frontiers as convenient places to park migrants.
The EU has earmarked millions of euros in assistance to Greece in tackling the migration challenge, but member states have largely refused to take asylum-seekers.
On Friday, Mitsotakis said that the bloc “occasionally hides behind money… to avoid taking difficult political decisions.”