NEWS

Old munitions plant to house migrant facility

old-munitions-plant-to-house-migrant-facility

The government is planning to set up a facility for the identification and temporary accommodation of refugees and migrants at the site of the old Pyrkal munitions factory at the port of Lavrio, east of Athens, but there are concerns about explosives still stored on the premises, Kathimerini has learned.

According to sources, a government delegation including Immigration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas visited the site on Wednesday. The plan is for the facility, where migrants and refugees arriving in Athens from the eastern Aegean will be sent for identification, to be up and running in two weeks. Authorities on Lesvos and other eastern Aegean islands struggling with an influx of migrants and refugees have been registering the visitors but do not have the resources to fingerprint them all in line with European security standards.

There are safety concerns about the new venue, however. Staff at state-controlled Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS), whose headquarters is located on the same site, have expressed worries due to the presence of large quantities of explosives on the Pyrkal premises. EAS management has called for the stockpiled explosives to be removed from the site, Kathimerini understands.

More than 4,000 refugees and migrants were transferred to Piraeus yesterday from Lesvos, where government officials are to hold an emergency meeting today. Alternate Shipping Minister Christos Zois and other government officials are to consult with local authorities and with representatives of local businesses before giving a press conference at 3 p.m.

After several days of unrest at the island’s main port, where police scuffled with migrants earlier this week, there had been no reports of upheaval by late yesterday. The decision by the caretaker government to dispatch more officials to the island appeared to have boosted the process of registering migrants. There are also more ferry crossings, up to four daily, connecting Lesvos to Piraeus.

Most of the migrants who arrive in Piraeus continue to Athens and many end up sleeping rough in the city’s main squares. Most appear reluctant to visit a reception facility that was set up in the central district of Elaionas over the summer for fear of being detained by authorities.