Patras migrant plan fuels ire

A decision by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to transfer hundreds of illegal immigrants living in a makeshift settlement near the port of Patras to a temporary reception center east of the port city has provoked the ire of people who live close to the new site. Residents living near the site of the disused army barracks that is to serve as a temporary home for more than 1,000 Afghan migrants met late yesterday to discuss how they would coordinate their reaction to the planned relocation. The planned move, heralded on Saturday by Pavlopoulos following his visit to the port settlement, is to be implemented alongside an intensification of policing at the port to prevent migrants from sneaking onto ferries. The planned relocation, due for completion by the end of next month, has spurred debate. Many believe that it will discourage other Europe-bound migrants from coming to Patras. Sources in Patras said that there were fewer migrants in the broader port area yesterday, though it was thought that the arrival of Pavlopoulos and his entourage at the camp may have kept them away. As for the barracks site in the east of the port city, it is being promoted as a valuable interim solution for accommodating the migrants as the construction of a permanent facility in Drepano, near Rio, at the northern tip of the Peloponnese, is still pending due to local opposition. Pavlopoulos reassured local authorities that the cost of the center, to be policed on a 24-hour basis, would be covered by central government. However there were no details about how the migrants would be transferred there and how many people the center would be able to accommodate. While there are some 1,000 migrants at the makeshift settlement at the port, there are another 300 Somalians in a new camp that has sprung up on the other side of the port and another 1,000 or so scattered across Patras.

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