Po­lice raze mi­grant camp in port city

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Po­lice and coast­guard of­fi­cers in Igoumenitsa yes­ter­day evac­u­ated about a hun­dred un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants from a makeshift camp at the north­west­ern port that the mi­grants had been us­ing as a launch pad to sneak onto fer­ries to Italy.

An­other 150 or so mi­grants eluded ar­rest in yes­ter­day’s dawn raid, flee­ing into the nearby moun­tains.

A to­tal of 1,000 would-be mi­grants from African and Asian coun­tries have been ar­rested in Igoumenitsa over the past two months in a se­ries of po­lice sweeps. Authorities have said that all the mi­grants will be de­ported ex­cept for those mer­it­ing refugees sta­tus though it re­mained un­clear where they will stay un­til their de­por­ta­tion.

Of­fi­cers yes­ter­day razed around 250 huts and tents that had been set up around the port and lo­cal authorities dis­in­fected the area.

Igoumenitsa Mayor Gior­gos Katsi­nos said the cleanup of the camp, which sprang up ear­lier this year, had be­come cru­cial as the hot weather and mount­ing garbage pro­duced by camp res­i­dents were pos­ing a pub­lic health risk. Also, the neg­li­gence of camp mem­bers had re­sulted in fires break­ing out on nearby forest­land, Katsi­nos said, adding that there had been fre­quent dis­putes be­tween mi­grants and res­i­dents whose tol­er­ance was dwin­dling.

Lo­cal authorities also have voiced concern about the vis­ual im­pact of the mi­grants’ camp on tourists ar­riv­ing at the port.

Mean­while in the west­ern port of Pa­tra, res­i­dents staged a pre-emp­tive protest, an­tic­i­pat­ing a new in­flux of mi­grants into their port city in the wake of the Igoumenitsa op­er­a­tion. Hun­dreds of would-be mi­grants have been camp­ing on the fringes of the west­ern port for years al­though a large po­lice raid in the sum­mer of 2009 razed the big­gest set­tle­ment.

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