Greece releases migrants from 'barbaric' detention centres

Asylum seekers in Greece's Pagani detention centre on Lesbos island.

The Greek government said on April 17 that it was releasing detainees in its neglected immigration centers.

“The people that were there, were living an indescribable barbarity,” said Greek immigration minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou. According to Christodoulopoulou, many of the detainees were illegally being held indefinitely.

The decision to release migrants is a stark contrast to the former conservative government of Antonis Samaras, which oversaw mass round-ups of undocumented migrants in 2012. According to Christodoulopoulou, Samaras' hardline anti-immigrant policies were both expensive and inhumane. “The centre did not fulfill basic needs,” she explained.

Critics of the new government have argued that released migrants have nowhere to go, and no support from the state. However, Christodoulopoulou said the government has no other choice.

"It's true the infrastructure does not exist, but it's not the fault of those being held, and nor can they face this agony for the rest of their lives," the minister said.

Greece is a major transit route for migrants from Africa and the Middle East heading to Europe. According to a 2011 European Court of Justice finding, as much as 90% of undocumented migrants that arrive in Europe do so through Greek borders.

[Reprinted from .]

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