NEWS

Northern port to get migrant facility

Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis and the mayor of the Igoumenitsa, Giorgos Katsinos, on Thursday agreed on the construction of a reception center in the area for the temporary accommodation of hundreds of undocumented migrants trying to get to Italy from the northwestern port.

It was also decided that police would set up roadblocks outside the area of the port so that checks can be carried out on the passports of suspected illegal immigrants. ID checks are not currently common practice in ports and airports of the 25 European countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement.

In a speech before Parliament, Papoutsis said that more reception centers were necessary to deal with an intensified influx of immigrants. ?We need not one but two, three, four or five centers to tackle the problem,? he said.

In the meantime, in Igoumenitsa, local police have been rounding up the migrants and keeping them in holding cells across the prefecture.

But the migrants can only be held for a couple of days due to a lack of available space in the cells. Most of those released are believed to return to Igoumenitsa, where hundreds of migrants of various ethnic origins use makeshift settlements as launch pads for attempts to sneak onto ferries to Italy.

At the land border with Turkey, the influx of would-be migrants is still strong and plans for the construction of a fence are said to be progressing.

An official at the ministry told Kathimerini that feasibility studies have been completed and a competition will soon be announced to choose the contractor who will take on the job. ?It won?t be long before the fence project is a reality,? the official said.