Greece Resorts to Floating Sea Barriers to Keep Migrants from Its Islands
The number of migrants the islands of Lesbos, Samos, and Chios exceed their migrant camps’ capacity sevenfold.
Greece is going to install sea barriers in an attempt to curb the influx of migrants reaching in particular its islands off the coast of Turkey.
The Greek Defense Ministry opened on Wednesday a tender for the installation of what is called a “floating protection system” in the Aegean Sea to fend off migrant boats arriving from the Turkish coast.
The decision to install floating sea barriers is announced against the backdrop of last week’s protests by the inhabitants of the large Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios over the government’s handling of migrant arrivals.
Lesbos, Samos, and Chios have born the brunt of receiving the largest numbers of migrant arrivals from the Middle East in recent months.
According to the tender documentation of the Greek Defense Ministry, the floating obstacle would be 2.7-kilometers long, a system of both barriers and nets, The Greek Reporter reported. It would be used as an emergency measure by Greece’s armed forces.
The anti-migrant vessel floating barriers are required to be 1.10 meters high, of which 50 centimeters should be above the surface and equipped with flashing lights. The budget of the floating barriers project is estimated at EUR 500,000.
The barriers rising above the water are directed against small boats, while nets could stop propeller-driven vessels.
“[The floating protection system] will restrict and, where appropriate, suspend the intention to illegally enter national territory in order to counter the ever-increasing migration and refugee flows,” Greece’s Defense Ministry is quoted as saying.
“The invitation for floating barriers is in the right direction… We will see what the result, what its effect as a deterrent will be in practice,” Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told Skai Radio, as cited by The Greek Reporter.
More than 40,000 asylum-seekers and migrants are currently crammed into migrant camps on the Greek islands off the coast of Turkey, stuck in deploarable conditions. The official combined capacity for the reception camps on the islands in question is only 6,200.
Moria alone, the largest camp on the island of Lesbos, has a capacity of 2,840 but there are more than 19,000 migrants living there at present.
In the camp on Samos, which was designed for 700 people, there are around 7,200 migrant, which the population of the town of Samos is 6,500.
The conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has adopted tougher measures with respect to asylum-seekers and migrants, including by attempting to accelerate the repatriation of people whose political asylum applications have been rejected.
Global NGO Amnesty International described the announcement about the floating barriers Greece wants to install as “alarming” and said the move raised “serious issues” about Greece’s plans for dealing with those “desperately seeking safety”.
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