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Human rights groups alarmed by Home Secretary’s visit to new asylum centre in Greece

Priti Patel met Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi to discuss ‘shared challenges on illegal migration’

PRITI PATEL’S visit to a new asylum centre on the Greek island of Samos has rung alarm bells among human rights groups. 

Arriving in the country on Tuesday, the Home Secretary met Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi to discuss “shared challenges on illegal migration.” 

Ms Patel’s two-day official visit included a trip to a newly constructed facility on the island of Samos that is due to open in September.

Last year, Greek ministers announced plans for five “closed and controlled” refugee facilities to replace the sprawling camps on the Aegean Islands.

But aid workers on Lesbos told the Morning Star at the time that such a move could hide potential human rights abuses from view. 

Once complete, the Samos facility will have room for 3,100 people, with asylum-seekers housed in prefabricated cabins and enclosed by a double wire fence. 

Ms Patel’s visit to the site has raised concerns that she seeks to replicate Greece’s closed-camp model in Britain. 

Refugee Rights Europe, a research group that documents human rights abuses against refugees on the continent, described this as “deeply worrying.” 

Research and policy co-ordinator Frances Timberlake said: “This model is known to have failed on all fronts: it damages people’s physical and mental health, it results in widespread rights violations and it vastly diminishes the country’s global standing.

“Though Samos might feel far away, Greece’s harsh policies have had devastating impacts across Europe. They are not ones to be replicated.”

In a statement published after the trip, Ms Patel said: “We have seen a surge in illegal migration across Europe and we must continue to work closely with Greek partners to tackle this challenge that both our countries face.”

Amnesty International refugee and migrant rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds said: “Sadly, the Home Secretary is already deeply committed to doing all that she can to avoid any of the responsibility she appears to expect other countries should take and so, like Greece, disdaining the rights and needs of people seeking asylum.

“The outcome is almost certain to be the same as in Greece — countless lives lost or damaged, a booming trade in exploitation of people and administrative dysfunction and chaos.”

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