Residents protest migrant reception center in Kozani

Residents of Neapoli, near the city of Kozani in northern Greece, where a disused military camp is due to be turned into a reception center for undocumented immigrants have held a protest against the government’s initiative.

Dozens of people took part in the protest, complaining that the camp in western Macedonia is too close to their homes and not safe enough to be used for such a purpose.

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis is due to meet local officials on Thursday afternoon to discuss the plans.

The camp has only a few buildings, which previously housed no more than 20 soldiers. It does not have running water but the government has asked local authorities to connect it to the water network.

Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Lefteris Economou told Skai radio that the police would guard the camp and that migrants with a criminal record would not be housed there.

Economou said that Greece is planning to build 14 such camps. The Kozani detention center is due to be ready in about a month.

“There is no other solution for housing illegal immigrants other than detention centers,” he said.

The barracks, abandoned since 2008, are said to have been picked out of a list of disused military facilities across the country by Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The facility is set in a plot covering 15 hectares and can accommodate around 3,000 migrants, according to sources, who said that large tents will be used in addition to the buildings to house the occupants. 

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