Migration and Struggle in Greece


Money for detention centers until “screening centers” come…

Posted by clandestina on 27 December 2009

source: athens news

THE GOVERNMENT has announced it will pay back all the money spent last year by the country’s border prefectures – including Samos, Lesvos, Chios, Chania and the Dodecanese – to maintain and operate the detention centres for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. The prefectures have accrued some 8.5 million euros in debt.

The decision was announced by Deputy Interior Minister Theodora Tzakri during a meeting with the prefects in Athens on December 7.

“We are very pleased with the minister’s announcement,” Manolis Karlas, prefect of the island of Samos, which lies just off the coast of Turkey, told the Athens News immediately following the meeting. “She promised we would receive all the money owed by the end of the year. A first instalment will be paid next week. This money has been spent to feed and clothe the migrants and to pay for their transportation to Athens.”

Karlas, like the other prefects, is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the detention centres for illegal migrants.

“We have about 80 [migrants] on the island today,” he explained. “But during the summer months the number exceeds 800. And they all need food, clothes and shoes. We feed them three times a day. All this costs money.”

He and the other prefects informed Tzakri that the current situation has forced them to shop on credit and run up huge debts with local merchants.

The number of migrants sneaking into Greece has skyrocketed in the past few years. Official data compiled by Greece’s interior ministry show more than 146,000 migrants were arrested for entering the country illegally in 2008. This is more than double the number recorded three years ago. The government has repeatedly stressed the need for more EU help.

To provide a permanent solution, the Pasok government is planning to transform migrant detention centres into so-called screening centres, where undocumented migrants and asylum seekers will stay for only a few days as their status is being decided. A similar system exists in other European Union countries.

This is a major detour in policy pursued by the former New Democracy government, which had announced the creation of dozens of additional migrant detention centres across the country. It had planned to transform dozens of disused military facilities into detention centres and to detain undocumented migrants for as long as a year or until they were deported.

However, the conditions at many of the country’s existing migrant detention centres have been harshly criticised by representatives of local and international human rights groups, and the current government itself.

During a visit of the overcrowded facility on the island of Lesvos, Spyros Vouyias, the deputy minister for the protection of citizens, condemned the condition of the overcrowded facility on the island of Lesvos and ordered its immediate closure last month.

Using language surprisingly harsh for a cabinet member, he told reporters that conditions there were “appalling, inhuman, a violation of basic human rights”.

Last week, the government announced plans to overhaul existing asylum legislation in order to increase the number of people who may secure refugee status. Greece currently has the lowest rate of refugee recognition in Europe. According to Michalis Chrysohoidis, the citizen protection minister, it is currently 0.03 percent.

Chrysohoidis has also announced that the police will no longer be the sole decision-maker on asylum applications. This will be assigned to a new committee of government officials, legal experts and members of non-governmental organisations. As many as 40,000 asylum applications are currently pending.

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Greek citizenship for migrant children born in Greece only to the children of legal immigrants

Posted by clandestina on 23 November 2009

This is about these promises of the Greek government Greek socialists to grant citizenship to migrants’ children.

source: ert gr filia on 17 November

Greek citizenship for migrant children born in Greece – as announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou at the World Migration Forum – applies only to the children of legal immigrants, clarified the Interior undersecretary Theodora Tzakri yesterday, in response to a question by New Democracy deputy Evangelos Antonaros.

On his part, Antonaros warned that the prospect of immediate citizenship for the children would exacerbate the constantly growing number of immigrants heading for Greece. In his opinion, he said, the children of legal immigrants should be classified as “long-term residents” and, when they reach the age of 18, would have the possibility of deciding if they want the nationality of their parents or Greek citizenship.

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“Theater of the absurd with immigrants”

Posted by clandestina on 2 September 2009

Two excerpts of today’s “Eleftherotypia”  newspaper issue.

Theater of the absurd with immigrants

A real “theater of the absurd”  of dramatic proportions has been going on with reagrd to the issue of migrants, since the preoccupation with the forthcoming (?) elections, among other things, has paralyzed the procedures for the planned (?) management of the problem, after the thousands of arrests of the previous two months.

Gradually the police detention centers open their doors and free hundreds of non-legal immigrants who can not be deported nor be detained further.

The reasonable question «why then did they arrest them in the first place” has also a reasonable answer. This was an opportunistic policy by a collapsing government, which was under the influence of the promises it made vis-a-vis the euroelections.  And the worst thing is that the main opposition was also drawn to the unrealistic doctrine, «zero tolerance for illegal immigration».

Interior Ministry agents foresee that nothing will be implemented of the alleged “places of temporary detention” and that they will be forced to reduce the crowding of detention centers on Aegean islands, leaving non legal immigrants with minor children free.

«Athens cannot take up more immigrants» –
The capital is confronted once again with the failure of immigration policy . «Athens should not be a dump of human suffering and cannot  bear the burden of more illegal immigrants», is the strong reaction of the prefect of Athens faced with the transportation of 570  immigrants from Mytilene to Athens this morning, without anyone knowing what will happen to these people since there is no plan for accommodation and hospitality- except for the 100 minors who will stay at the Aghios Andreas children summer camp facilities.

«And as is the usual development, [the refugees] will end up in the hands of drug traffickers, pimps and crime padrons, who feed on the chaotic reality», says Mr. Sgouros, highlighting the lack of any organization.  Among other things, he proposed the legalization oef long residing immigrants and the acceleration of asylum grants to those who are entitled to them, as well as the establishment of humane reception centers for undocumented immigrants illegally entering the country.

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Eurofortress Elections: anti-immigrant legacies…

Posted by clandestina on 19 May 2009

Government and Opposition parties (Nea Dimokratia and Pasok) compete in hypocricy, resorting to the scant residues of pretexts.  After the Euroelections the parliamentary ones will come, the Opposition will be government… The anti-immigrant legacy will be in good – and familiar – hands, no worries… Bilateral aggreements, bilateral crimes.

This is a mix of Kathimerini and ANA-MPA articles…


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.

Papandreou said he has ascertained “the full and overall failure of the governmental policy on the issue of illegal migration and on refugees”, adding that the result of that policy was hardship and suffering for the local societies, and downgrading of the lives of migrants and refugees, as well as hardship on the Harbor Corps employees.

He said that “a serious government should have done six things, which have not been done”, elaborating that the country today lacks: serious guarding of its borders due to a downgrading of the Harbor Corps with respect to means and staff; a clear-cut policy on how and who is categorised as a political refugee and who is sent back; a clear-cut policy on how to incorporate the legal migrants and refugees into the Greek society and economy; and a clear-cut policy on boosting the guarding of the country’s ports so as to send a powerful message to all the illegal immigration rings that Greece will not be a gateway for illegal immigrants to the rest of Europe.

Further, Greece has not activated its bilateral agreements with neighboring Turkey that provide for the return of all illegal immigrants coming to Greece via Turkey which, Papandreou said, PASOK had implemented when it was in government.

Also, the establishment of immigrant/refugee camps only worsened the situation rather than solved the problem, adding that the problem can be solved by a serious government through cooperation in the European Union.

“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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