Elections, legal obstacles halt migrant camp

Political uncertainty ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections and legal wrangling with local authorities have put the brakes on works to complete a temporary detention center for undocumented migrants in Amygdaleza, northwest of Athens, Kathimerini understands.

A total of 1,200 migrants were to be moved into the center by mid-May, the Citizens? Protection Ministry said last month. However, the site currently hosts no more than 200.

Only three of a total 13 sections have been constructed so far at a cost of 250,000 euros, mostly from donations. Part of the money was used to renovate dozens of containers which were originally set up to house people hit by natural disasters such as earthquakes, and to build other facilities.

The government did not launch an open tender for the construction of the remaining 10 sections, citing an ?emergency caused by unpredictable developments.? Instead, six construction firms are participating in a so-called ?closed? tender launched last month for the 1.6-million-euro project.

Sources inside the ministry said any progress before the June 17 vote was highly unlikely.

A second stumbling block is a legal appeal that the Municipality of Acharnon has lodged against the project, alleging that the plot on which the migrant camp operates is its own property. A first instance court has rejected an appeal by the municipality, which had asked for the operation of the camp to be temporarily suspended.

European Commission inspectors are scheduled to visit Greece on May 29 to assess the country?s progress in implementing Europe?s open-border Schengen agreement. Officials, who will be here until May 31, will carry out on-site inspections at various border crossings and detention camps. A Schengen ?checkup? carried out by the Commission earlier this month found fault with Greece?s porous eastern frontier with Turkey.

Meanwhile, asylum seekers scuffled outside the Aliens Bureau in Athens as they waited to submit applications. Police intervened but failed to stop the violence. Three police officers and one Ghanaian national were injured while 127 persons were detained.