Gov’t accused of failing on migrants

PASOK leader George Papandreou yesterday slammed the government’s immigration policy as a complete failure, as Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis heralded the creation of a separate body that would oversee the management of the center of Athens, which a growing number of illegal immigrants are making their home. Papandreou was speaking in Patras after visiting the coast guard at the local port, close to where hundreds of migrants have set up a makeshift camp as they wait for the opportunity to board ferries for Italy. «In Patras, we can see the complete failure of the government’s policy on illegal immigration,» said the PASOK leader. He accused the government of lacking a clear policy on who should be granted asylum, of failing to develop a coherent policy on how to assimilate migrants in Greek society, of not ensuring the proper protection of the country’s borders and of being unable to reach bilateral agreements to secure the repatriation of some migrants. «This problem can be solved by a more serious government that is capable of working with the European Union,» said Papandreou. The government responded by announcing that it would be adopting a plan put forward by Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros to create a body that would coordinate the work of various services, including the police, in the so-called historic center of Athens. Markoyiannakis gave no further details about how or when this body will operate but he told Skai Radio he has plans to increase the police presence around Omonia Square, where the crime rate has reached alarming levels. It is also the site of an abandoned court building where over 500 migrants are squatting. Markoyiannakis added that there are plans to move a methadone center from the area, which many locals believe is the cause of the drug-related crime in the neighborhood.

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