Mi­grant pro­gram looms

Com­mis­sion ap­proves emer­gency fund­ing as Athens pre­pares to host thou­sands

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A day af­tera cri­sis sum­mit on the refugee prob­lem, where Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras agreed to in­crease Greece’s re­cep­tion ca­pac­ity for mi­grants to 50,000 by the end of the year, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion ap­proved the re­lease of emer­gency aid to Athens.

Con­firm­ing the ap­proval of 5.9 mil­lion eu­ros to help Greece cope with the large num­bers of mi­grants and refugees ar­riv­ing in the coun­try daily from Turkey, Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Mi­gra­tion Dim­itris Avramopou­los said the aid was aimed at en­abling author­i­ties to “cover the trans­porta­tion costs for a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of th­ese per­sons from the east­ern Aegean is­lands to re­cep­tion cen­ters in main­land Greece once they have been prop­erly reg­is­tered, iden­ti­fied and fin­ger­printed.” A state­ment is­sued by the EC in­di­cated that the sum was aimed at pay­ing for the trans­port of 60,000 peo­ple. It re­mained un­clear, how­ever, where those peo­ple would stay as Greek author­i­ties are still seek­ing venues.

Sources in Brus­sels in­di­cated that Tsipras came un­der huge pres­sure at the Sun­day sum­mit to set up a large fa­cil­ity for mi­grants in Athens. In com­ments af­ter the meet­ing, Tsipras said the cre­ation of such a fa­cil­ity, “the size of a small city,” was among a se­ries of “un­ac­cept­able de­mands” that he re­jected. Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman Olga Gerovasili also pre­sented the out­come of the sum­mit as a mi­nor vic­tory for Greece. “What was asked of us, to place 20,000 peo­ple in a gi­ant camp, was re­jected,” she said, adding that “there will be no con­cen­tra­tion camps in our coun­try.” She added that author­i­ties were pre­par­ing a hous­ing pro­gram to help up to 20,000 mi­grants, in­di­cat­ing that this too would re­quire Euro­pean fund­ing.

As author­i­ties dis­cussed how to han­dle mi­gra­tion flows, thou­sands of des­per­ate peo­ple con­tin­ued their jour­neys. An­other mi­grant was found drowned off Lesvos yes­ter­day, and an­other 12 re­mained un­ac­counted for, fol­low­ing an­other tragedy on Sun­day when the bod­ies of a woman and two chil­dren were re­cov­ered. Mean­while, many mi­grants wait­ing on the is­lands to be reg­is­tered are said to be sleep­ing in the rain due to space re­stric­tions at re­cep­tion cen­ters.

Hun­dreds more mi­grants who ar­rived in Pi­raeus yes­ter­day made their way to the cap­i­tal’s squares. Around 1,500 peo­ple were camped out in Vic­to­ria Square alone last night.

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