Five Migrant Reception Units On Cards

Five migrant reception units on cards
Police set sights on clearing city squats
July 22, 2009

Police officers oversee the evacuation of the last few migrants from the premises of the old Athens appeals court in the city center yesterday. The building, in which some 600 migrants had been living for months in squalid conditions, was disinfected by municipal workers after the clear-out. Authorities said other squats will be raided in coming weeks.

As police evacuated the last few illegal immigrants from the premises of the old Athens appeals court in the city center yesterday, Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis announced a series of similar raids on occupied derelict buildings, as reports emerged of government plans to create five new reception centers for migrants nationwide.

Markoyiannakis said the summer would see police entering dozens more vacant buildings in Athens where hundreds of undocumented migrants are living in squalid conditions, some reverting to drug dealing to eke out a living. He said police would use effective but safe tactics to remove them. After the police operation on the old appeals court building on Socratous Street yesterday, a City of Athens unit moved in to disinfect the premises.

Meanwhile, sources told Kathimerini that the Interior Ministry is planning the creation of five new centers to accommodate thousands of illegal immigrants. The centers are slated for construction in Rio, in the Peloponnese; in Evros, near the Turkish border; in Ritsona on Evia; in Keramoti near Kavala and in Aspropyrgos, in northwestern Attica. Though the camps are expected to spark vehement protests by locals, the ministry is reportedly intent on pushing through the projects, sorely needed following the evacuation of some 1,500 Afghans from a makeshift settlement in the western port of Patra and about 600 immigrants from the Socratous Street squat. Legislation outlining the operation of these camps is expected to be submitted in Parliament over the next few days.

But residents and local authority officials are already up in arms, sources say. There is going to be conflict, said the mayor of Keramoti, Grigoris Triantafyllidis. Municipal authorities have drafted petitions, opposing the creation of migrant concentration camps in their areas. Meanwhile, a joint press conference by 13 migrant rights groups condemned the government for compromising the rights of migrants and refugees.