NEWS

Citizens' Protection Minister heralds 30 migrant centers

Citizens? Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis on Monday heralded the creation of 30 detention centers for illegal immigrants across the country by 2013, saying it was imperative that central and local government authorities cooperate to tackle illegal immigration, which he described as ?a national problem? and ?a ticking time bomb for public health.?

Addressing reporters after talks with regional leaders, Chrysochoidis said the plan was to set up three centers in each of the country?s 10 mainland regions, each holding at least 1,000 migrants. He added that his ministry and that of Defense would draft legislation outlining the creation of the facilities ahead of general elections, which are expected in late April or early May. The bill would be forced through Parliament without a vote.

Chrysochoidis said some 250 million euros in EU funding was available for the creation of the centers -- which are to be set up at disused military facilities -- through 2013.

Following protests by locals in Kozani, northern Greece, where the first of the centers is to be built, the minister acknowledged that there might be objections but sought to offer incentives. Each facility would bring jobs to some 1,000 locals, he said, noting that there would be a need for catering, cleaning, medical and security services.

Chrysochoidis also appealed to the governors? sense of collective responsibility, noting that illegal immigration was a national problem. Many reportedly remained unmoved. Nevertheless, they have until the end of the week to submit proposals for possible sites. If they fail to do so, the ministry will decide for them. Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos already has drafted a list of 10 disused military facilities, sources said.

Online