NEWS

Patras migrants’ health suffers

Hundreds of Afghan migrants, camping near the port of Patras in the hope of sneaking onto ferries to Italy, are suffering from contagious skin diseases and breathing problems, according to doctors who visited the site. The various ailments afflicting the migrants have been provoked or aggravated by the filthy conditions at the camp, according to Doctors of the World staff who treated the sick migrants during their visit. In a bid to provide shelter to some of the hundreds of migrants at the camp, the Health Ministry has heralded the opening of three hostels: in the Athens district of Vyronas, at the port of Lavrion and in Nea Magnesia, near Thessaloniki. The Vyronas camp is to accommodate 20 of the child migrants. The Lavrion site will host 100 migrants, adults and children, and an undetermined number will be sent to the Nea Magnesia site. It is unclear whether authorities will help these migrants apply for asylum in Greece or keep them there temporarily before deporting them. Meanwhile, a steady influx of new migrants is entering the camp, according to local Red Cross staff. The new arrivals are reported to be building new shacks to replace those demolished by police in February. Those migrants caught sneaking out of the camp, in a bid to access the port and board a ferry, are arrested. As a result, dozens more Afghans end up in detention centers in Patras, Corinth, Athens and even as far afield as Evros. In a related development this week, state labor inspectors raided several farms in the southern Peloponnese in response to media reports that hundreds of migrants are being employed as modern-day slaves by local fruit producers. Three farm owners were arrested following the raids, which were organized after the weekly magazine Epsilon, published with Eleftherotypia newspaper, reported that around 2,500 migrants were working as strawberry pickers for a pittance. The workers were reportedly forced to pay rent to their employers to live in shacks.