Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday demanded more “active” participation from the EU in housing thousands of migrants on the island of Lesbos, as he said Athens will rebuild a notoriously overcrowded camp destroyed by fire.
“A new facility will be needed… it will be done… (but) the management model must be different,” Mitsotakis said after meeting with European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas in Athens.
“We will discuss the maximum European participation in this effort. European solidarity cannot be limited to managing a crisis,” the PM said.
Athens has long complained that aside from providing funds, fellow EU members have done too little to help states like Greece and Italy, where most migrants first arrive on European soil.
“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past… it’s not just a concern of Greece and other states on outer (EU) borders to manage this problem,” Mitsotakis said.
Greek officials have scrambled to provide alternative housing for asylum-seekers made homeless by the fires in Moria camp.
A ferry and navy ships have been pressed into service, while a new makeshift camp has sprung up over the objections of local hardliners who want the migrants off the island altogether.
Several EU states have offered to take in unaccompanied minors from the camp and have pledged supplies, doctors and cash.
EU vice-president Schinas said the bloc is “planning for the future,” promising “new standards, with better installations” at any rebuilt camp in “the mid-term”.
Greece’s largest and most maligned migrant camp, Moria burned down in successive fires on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving nearly 12,000 people homeless.
Built in 2013 and originally designed for temporary screening and detention for fewer than 2,800, Moria eventually grew to house over 20,000, many of them sleeping in tents outside its walls.
Overcrowding, poor sanitation and crime at the camp had been highlighted by rights groups for years.