Regional officials remain skeptical about migrant camps

As police in Athens pressed on with sweeps of the city center on Thursday, arresting dozens more undocumented migrants, regional authorities remained divided on the government’s bid to create 30 new detention centers for migrants. Regional authorities in Attica and Epirus, in northern Greece, accepted the proposal, those in eastern Macedonia and Thrace and Thessaly rejected it out of hand, while authorities in western and central Macedonia said they needed more details before they could decide. Despite the decision by Attica regional authorities to permit the creation of facilities, mayors in western Attica said they remained vehemently opposed to the prospect of such centers. Unfazed by these reactions, Attica Governor Yiannis Sgouros said he believed sites would be found for at least three of the 30 centers within the next 10 days. His office is said to be inspecting several plots and buildings in the greater Athens area that could serve as sites for detention centers. Most of the 30 centers are expected to be set up on the premises of disused military facilities.

It emerged yesterday that the Defense Ministry had sent the Citizens’ Protection Ministry a list of 29 disused military facilities last December. Following an inspection of their premises for suitability, the list has been whittled down to 13. The head of the country’s Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDE), Costas Askounis, suggested that those reacting against the centers were being hypocritical. “We’re not bothered by drugs being sold in front of our homes but we are by a reception center operating a short distance away?” he remarked. The regional governor for western Macedonia, Constantinos Dakis, expressed a different view. “Moving the problem from one end of Greece to the other is not a solution,” he said, adding, “We can’t have results without the cooperation of the local community.”  

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