NEWS

EU may help fund migrant action plan

As part of a new action plan to deal with illegal immigration, the government hopes to have identified several new sites by the middle of this month for the construction of new reception centers, which will likely be funded by the European Union. Kathimerini understands that a meeting was held at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry last Tuesday during which a team was formed to seek out potential sites for the construction of these centers. There are plans to build one in Attica and one in Evros, northeastern Greece, as soon as possible. They will each have the capacity to house up to 500 migrants. Currently, most immigrants awaiting deportation or for their asylum applications to be processed are held in police cells because there is a lack of reception centers. It is estimated that on any given day, there are 4,000 migrants in holding cells. The police says it only has the capacity to hold 2,000. The idea of building new centers is one of the proposals in the action plan that has been drawn up by the ministry and which was presented to the European Commission. Given the poor state of public finances, Greece is hoping that Brussels will provide at least some of the money needed to enact the plan. Kathimerini understands the indications are that Greece would qualify for 57 million euros of funding so it could adopt what are termed «emergency measures.» Ministry sources said that if the money from Brussels is forthcoming, the new centers could be built within a year. Other proposals in the action plan include the creation of a new asylum service to process applications more efficiently and to create a better support structure for the protection of particularly vulnerable migrants, such as minors.