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A preview of what the EU’s new migration policy might look like in action

Refugees and asylum seekers gather outside the temporary camp in Kara Tepe as they wait to depart from Lesbos for mainland Greece, Monday, Sept. 28. Credit: Keystone/AP/Panagiotis Balaskas

A closed camp for asylum seekers being set up by Greek authorities on the island of Samos with support from the EU could provide a preview of what reception and identification centres will look like under the EU's New Pact on Migration and Asylum, announced last Wednesday.

The pact has been criticised by human rights activists like Eve Geddie, Amnesty International's EU advocacy director, who said in a statement that the pact is “designed to heighten walls and strengthen fences. This appears to be an attempt to rebrand a system which has been failing for years, with dire consequences. ”

While the closed camp is supposed to improve living conditions for asylum seekers on the Greek islands, humanitarian groups remain wary. The facility is five kilometres from the closest town and will be surrounded by a six-meter-high barbed wire fence. Asylum seekers will be issued microchip bracelets that control access during the day and the gates will be locked at night.

The existing camps aren't closed, even though they were intended to be, because they became so overcrowded they couldn't contain everyone and people became so angry at being locked in that they protested and rioted. The deficiencies of the current model were dramatically illustrated by fires at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos at the beginning of September that left 12,500 people temporarily homeless.

Last week, the EU announced it would also build a new facility on Lesvos in partnership with Greece. Currently, 10,000 former inhabitants of Moria are living in a tent camp and more than 240 have tested positive for Covid-19.

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