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The government is planning to establish thirty centres for illegal immigrants, local communities do not want them

27 March 2012 / 18:03:59  GRReporter
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Establishment of thirty detention centres for illegal immigrants in ten regions in mainland Greece will be legislated shortly before the elections. The Ministry of Citizens' Protection in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence will prepare the legal document.

During his meeting with regional governors, Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis gave them a week to inform the Ministry if they agree with the location of centres in their regions and to offer ready premises to be used for this purpose.

To a journalist's question of what would happen if local communities are not positive to the establishment of such centres, the Minister replied, "laws are voted on and apply to all Greeks." He also pointed out that the centres will be funded with European grants to the amount of 250 million euro for the period 2011-2013. Michalis Chrysochoidis stressed that the fight against illegal immigration should not be delayed any longer and that "it is not possible to constantly sweep away the problem."

According to the Minister, a separate police department of about 150 police officers is planned for each centre. Moreover, 70 security guards will be responsible for every 250 immigrants.

Michalis Chrysochoidis' comment on the responses against the establishment of centres indicated that the mutual transfer of responsibilities is not a solution. Regarding the case of the residents of the village of Neapoli, he said that those protesting must take a responsible position. In support of his decisions, the Minister added that keeping Greece in the Schengen area depends on tackling illegal immigration, because the deadline for implementing specific measures against illegal immigration is the month of June.

During the meeting between the Minister and regional governors, the police headquarters presented the technical characteristics of the centres to be established. The document explicitly describes the benefits and new jobs for local communities.

Under the plan, each detention centre for foreigners will be divided into 4 sectors and can accommodate 1,000 people. There will be 250 immigrants in each sector, divided into five wings for 50 people. Each wing is planned to consist of a dormitory, a dining room, sanitary facilities, places for the exercise of religious duties, an open space for sports and other open spaces for walking. A three metre high triple NATO type fence, the outer layer of which will be of metal wire, will surround the centres.

There will also be an administrative building for the management and staff. It will consist of a medical office, a clinical room, a fire service, and premises for representatives of other bodies etc.

Armed police officers will guard the centres outside. Internal security will be entrusted to private security firms. Surveillance cameras will be installed in the premises.

In return, authorities are promising 1,000 new jobs to local communities. First is the formation of a police department of 150 people. 300 private security guards will work in each centre. A private food supplying company will provide meals. Health care services, teams to clean the premises, maintenance, opening of canteens and laundry add to the list of benefits for local people following the establishment of centres.

The residents, however, are responding that they do not want such facilities adjacent to their homes. The governor of Attica, Yiannis Sgouros, said he will meet the mayors and competent ministers in order to find the places for the centres to be established, but they will be located in the eastern and northern areas. According to him, densely populated areas will not be preferred. Yiannis Sgouros underlined that the first pilot centre should be established in Attica. He urged political parties to take positions on the issue because "naturally, some may think that the actions of Michalis Chrysochoidis are an election trick" and added that these measures should have been taken long ago. He supported the closure of borders in Evros and the islands, and that the embassies of the countries from which the immigrants come should make them passports and give them money to go back.

New Democracy deputy Fotini Pipili stated that such centres are operating in most major cities in Europe. She said she was disappointed with the reaction of local communities, accusing them of expressing local patriotism and chauvinism.

The mayor of Voio municipality near Kozani, Mary Orfanidi said that local authorities are not willing to take on the management of such a centre, because nothing is planned and everything will be made superficially. According to her, all political forces and representatives of local communities should make a plan based on research. She added that the selected area near Kozani does not meet the requirements and therefore, they will not participate in any negotiations. "Local communities can identify in each district areas that do not interfere with anybody."

Municipal Councillor from Langadas Stavros Terzakis said that local communities in the selected areas had not been informed that centres for immigrants would be established in the municipalities and had read about this in the media. "If we had been invited to discuss the matter, we would have responded. But they did not invite us. Under these conditions, we will not participate in any discussion," he said. The Mayor of the village, Ioannis Anastasiadis, said that the detention centre for illegal immigrants will be the tombstone of the region, which is anyway affected by the new landfill.

"The statements made by Minister Chrysochoidis were surprising," said the governor of Central Greece, Klearhos Pergantas. He urged his colleagues from other regions to support a decision, which is also approved by mayors.

Tags: PoliticsSocietyDetention centres for illegal immigrantsMichalis ChrysochoidisLocal communitiesProtests
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