The government says that the new camps, expected to be operational by July 2020, are needed to alleviate overcrowding at other locations that have been the focus of international criticism. Local residents counter that the migrants should be transferred to mainland Greece.
On February 25, more than 500 locals prevented construction workers from accessing the site of a proposed new migrant camp at Karava Mantamadou on Lesbos. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds.
Similar clashes occurred on Chios, a large Greek island located less than 20 kilometers from Turkey, from where tens of thousands of migrants depart each year in hopes of eventually reaching mainland Europe.
The new site on Lesbos will be a so-called closed camp that tightly controls access and will replace the current open-access camp at Moria. The closed camps will allow migrants to go out during the day but will require them to be locked in at night. The objective is to control their movements and prevent them from escaping to the mainland.