EC seeks better migrant care

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom Tuesday noted progress in Greece’s efforts to curb an influx of undocumented immigrants into the country but called for an improvement in the provision of medical care to migrants and in the conditions of reception centers on the islands of the Aegean which have seen a surge in illegal arrivals following a recent crackdown by authorities at the Greek-Turkish land border.

“We understand the difficulties that Greece is facing, including the increased daily inflows of immigrants,” Malmstrom told a press conference in Athens. But, despite the difficulties, she said migrant reception centers needed to be upgraded and the system by which Greece processes asylum claims remained inadequate. “In Greece only one in 100 asylum applicants get international protection,” she remarked.

The Swedish commissioner, who held talks with Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias following her visit to two migrant reception centers in Evros, northern Greece, on Monday, said that she would push for an increase in the European Union’s contribution to funding for Greece’s immigration crackdown, from 75 percent to 95 percent of the budget.

Malmstrom noted however that much of the EU funding being released to Greece for curbing illegal immigration had not been used. “There is still funding that has not been absorbed by certain ministries,” said Malmstrom, who, during her visit to Greece, also held talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis as well as several representatives of nongovernmental organizations striving to improve conditions for migrants in the capital and beyond.

In a related development, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) said that an inspection and vaccination program for immigrants at centers in Evros had been completed, with 11,000 migrants inspected and 1,745 inoculated. A total of 76 tested positive for tuberculosis and 100 others were hospitalized for treatment for various ailments.


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