Greece’s Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has faced boos and jeers from residents of Chios, angry over violent confrontations taking place at refugee centers on the Aegean island.
Villagers from Chalkios and other towns held a protest at the island’s airport for the departing minister, calling on him to quit.
An overcrowded migrant and refugee registration center is causing great concern to islanders, as it is often the scene of violent confrontations between groups of migrants and the Greek police.
Greece’s migration deputy had been on Chios to discuss the ongoing problem of the migrant inflow and the situation in reception centers. However, his proposal to expand the VIAL migrant registration center met with disapproval from some residents.
A banner reading ‘Mouzalas resign and take the NGOs with you’ was unfurled and police escorted the minister through the building to the offices of airport security, where he gave a news conference until his departure.
Asked about the continuous protests in Chalkios about the VIAL expansion, the minister said he sympathized with locals and insisted he would try to solve the problem in the best way possible.
However, according to Chios Mayor Michalis Vournous, the major problem is that an agreement between Turkey and the EU on the return of migrants who arrive to Greece illegally is not being adhered to.
He has claimed that since March 2016, when the deal was signed, 50,000 migrants landed on the island but only 1,500 were returned to Turkey.