Old spin­ning mill to host Elliniko mi­grants

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Yian­nis Mouza­las yes­ter­day in­au­gu­rated a new re­cep­tion cen­ter for mi­grants in Thiva, north of Athens, which is ex­pected to be­come home to hun­dreds of peo­ple cur­rently liv­ing at the cap­i­tal’s old air­port in the south­ern sub­urb of Elliniko.

On a visit to the cen­ter with Laura Thompson of the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion (IOM), Mouza­las hailed the cen­ter as of­fer­ing “dig­ni­fied” con­di­tions to mi­grants.

Some 2 mil­lion eu­ros in Euro­pean Union fund­ing went into ren­o­vat­ing the for­mer spin­ning mill. The cen­ter now has 65 pre­fab­ri­cated build­ings that can host eight peo­ple each, with more struc­tures to go up soon. Ul­ti­mately, it will be able to host 700 peo­ple. Mouza­las said mi­grants will be moved to the site within the next month and that the ma­jor­ity will be fam­i­lies from the Elliniko camp. Most of the peo­ple cur­rently at Elliniko are Afghans and have lodged ap­pli­ca­tions for asy­lum.

The new camp has com­mon bath- rooms and class­rooms and Doc­tors of the World is to set up a surgery.

Dur­ing his visit to the Thiva site, Mouza­las was asked by re­porters whether he feared a new in­flux of mi­grants from Turkey, which has re­cently sug­gested that it may re­nege on a pact with the Euro­pean Union to crack down on hu­man smug­gling in the Aegean. His re­ply was diplo­matic but pointed to un­ease. “There is al­ways con­cern but we want the EU-Turkey agree­ment to be hon­ored and we are work­ing for that,” he said.

On the Aegean is­lands, where hun­dreds of mi­grants have been liv­ing in sub­stan­dard con­di­tions for months, rates of de­pres­sion and sui­cide at­tempts have in­creased, ac­cord­ing to aid work­ers. In Jan­uary alone, there were 12 sui­cide at­tempts and six in­ci­dents of mi­grants in­flict­ing self harm on Samos, ac­cord­ing to Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders. The num­ber of mi­grants in re­cep­tion cen­ters on Lesvos with post-trau­matic stress syn­drome has tripled in com­par­i­son with a year ago.

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