Government plans to build several new detention centres for undocumented immigrants have come up against strong resistance from local authorities in the northern prefecture of Evros, which already has two facilities for migrants and which accommodates dozens more in crammed police detention cells.
The mayors of the four municipalities of Evros and the representatives of local business and resident associations first expressed their opposition to the plans when they were announced by Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis in mid-May.
Now that the project – which foresees another three facilities in Evros – is moving forward, the authorities are ratcheting up their protests. According to the government’s blueprint, one of the three new facilities will be opened next to an existing detention centre near the village of Fylakio, the second will be set up near the town of Orestiada and the third is to open near the village of Didymoteicho, on the Turkish border.
The mayor of Didymoteicho, Paraskevas Patsouridis, said local residents opposed the plans. “The creation [of the centres] would signal the further deterioration of our area,” he stated.
In a written statement, a regional committee made up of local authority officials and advisers drew attention to “a lack of information and the absence of any agreement between local authorities and central government regarding plans for the creation of new facilities to accommodate illegal immigrants.”
Meanwhile, there has been a mixed reception to the planned construction of a wire fence along a 12.5 kilometre stretch of the Greek-Turkish border between the villages of Kastanies and Nea Vyssa. The aim of the fence is to slow the influx of would-be migrants entering Greece illegally. The Municipality of Orestiada has welcomed the project. But the regional governor of Evros, Aristidis Giannakidis, said he was opposed to the plans. “The region will not become tainted as a detention area for unfortunate souls,” he said. “We have an entirely different philosophy for the development of our region.”