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Two Corfu hotels given the go-ahead to accept refugees

12 Nov 2019 / 07:04

CORFU. Mitsotakis sends clear message to MPs regarding refugees/immigrants - Pressure on the PM - What΄s happening with Corfu - 390 refugees to go to Zakynthos

Two Corfu hotels, which submitted offers, have been approved to accept refugees and immigrants when they are sent here. Corfu and the Ionian Islands may not have been affected by the placement of thousands seeking asylum as yet but it's just a matter of time according to the Government's plan.

According to reliable information, 120 people will soon be coming to Corfu and will be accommodated in two hotels which submitted offers to the Ministry for Civil Protection.

Mitsotakis' project and his 'recommendations' to ND MPs

There are attempts in Corfu to exclude the island from Mitsotakis' plan to relieve the Eastern Aegean islands of the large numbers of refugees and immigrants. This will not be an easy matter given the Prime Minister's decision to proceed with the plan as quickly as possible.

At a meeting with Nea Dimokratia MPs in Kavouri on Saturday Mr. Mitsotakis made it clear that he wanted the full support of ND MPs on the issue of refugees and immigrants.

There are several ND MPs who are trying to get the best possible deal for their constituencies and ensure that the Prime Minister's plan to distribute asylum-seekers around the country affects them as little as possible.

Several, including Corfu, have expressed serious concern and have presented arguments that seem to be reasonable.

Stefanos Gikas' three arguments

Corfu MP Stefanos Gikas, for example, has claimed that Corfu is a special case and could be completely excluded from the distribution of refugees and immigrants arriving in the Eastern Aegean.

He has put forward three arguments:

1. There are over 25,000 people from Albania living in Corfu so there is already a significant portion of the population which isn't Greek. This argument is supported by the geopolitical position of Corfu and the Diapontia Islands on the western Greek border, not far from Albania.

2. A large presence of refugees and immigrants in Corfu, given its proximity to Italy (just 48 miles), could lead to the establishment of illegal traffickers. Corfu is undoubtedly a gateway, with all the consequences that implies regarding trafficking and immigration.

3. The busy tourist season in Corfu from April to October could lead to the uncontrolled arrival of illegal immigrants by sea. With the large number of recreational sea vessels visiting Corfu every year it wouldn't be at all easy to control traffickers using this means of entry and would, at the same time, affect the quality of tourism on the island.

Stefanos Gikas is not the only one who has expressed concern regarding the involvement of Corfu in the distribution of refugees and immigrants. The Ionian Islands Regional Governor Rodi Kratsa has stated from the beginning to all, including Enimerosi, that she is against the plan. She says it is important for an island like Corfu that at least only refugees, not economic immigrants, be accepted. There is already information, however, that 390 refygees and immigrants will be coming to Zakynthos - so it seems it is just a matter of time befor they start arriving in Corfu.

Nevertheless, Kyriakos Mitsotakis seems determined to go ahead with his plan for refugees and immigrants. As he made clear to his MPs in Kavouri on Saturday:

"Great efforts are being made to relieve the pressure on the islands. This will be the last time that there will a mass distribution from these islands to the rest of the country."

It would seem that as regards Corfu there may be appeals, serious concern, protests (mild at the moment) and conversations (Stefanos Gikas will be meeting with the General Secretary for Immigration Policy Patroklos Giorgiades), but it probably needs to be accepted that in the near future Corfu will be sent its share of refugees and immigrants.