Messinia drive to feed immigrants

Officials in the Peloponnesian prefecture of Messinia say they are struggling to feed and clothe hundreds of destitute immigrants drifting from village to village in search of work. Locals in the municipalities of Filiatra and Gargalianoi have reported seeing migrants gathering dead cats and dogs from the sides of the road for food. Many African migrants – chiefly Somalians and Sudanese – have been spotted stealing meat, eggs and other food from stores, according to locals who say that it is chiefly Eastern European migrants believed to be behind a string of robberies and burglaries. Most of the African migrants pass through the region looking for work as farmhands in exchange for as little as 20 euros a day. In Filiatra, authorities have been providing the migrants with food and clothes for months but are overwhelmed by the burgeoning population. «The situation is out of control,» the mayor of Filiatra, Alkis Xigas, told Kathimerini. «To begin with, we helped for humanitarian reasons but now there are too many of them and the system has blocked,» he said. Xigas said local migrants, who are mostly homeless, sleep in derelict buildings, sheds or create makeshift homes out of cardboard boxes or plastic sheeting. «They live however they can and wherever they can,» Xigas said, adding: «We do what we can but it’s not enough.» The municipality of Gargalianoi, which has a permanent population of around 6,000 including 1,000 legal migrants, has gone further in its attempts to support a few hundred undocumented immigrants. The mayor, Stavros Kalofolias, said that locals had long been contributing but that a daily soup kitchen would be set up soon to deal with the increased demand. «The provision of food will begin at around Easter and I believe it will be embraced by locals,» Kalofolias said.

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