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Migrants in Patras, Greece. Photo supplied by Heimatstern, eV

Greek police clamp down on migrants trying to get to northern Europe

A major police operation was launched on Tuesday morning in the Greek city of Patras in the north of the Peloponnese.

Published: May 16, 2018, 9:51 am

    Patras

    Greek police were moving immigrants out of camps illegally established in two abandoned factories, according to the local newspaper Patras Times.

    The operation began at dawn, and involved 380 policemen and ten special police units, the report said.

    More than 550 people were withdrawn from the Ladopoulos and AVEX factories on the territory of the old port; they were being put on buses and sent to camps for migrants near the city of Achaea, the newspaper writes.

    The operation was scheduled to be completed within a day. According to local reports, there was no resistance by the 600 or so migrants who boarded buses and were transferred to state-run facilities where officials were to check their documents.

    Four unaccompanied minors who had been at the camps were sent to special hostels.

    Patras is the main transport hub connecting Greece with Italy, and migrants try to get to the port and hide in trucks waiting to be sent to Italy by ferry. As balcanicaucaso.org reported:

    Similar to the period between 2009 and 2012, the region of Achaea and its capital Patras are once again in the middle of a migration route, after the closure of the Balkan route and the agreement between the EU and Turkey which closed off Greece’s borders. Afghans, Pakistanis, but also Algerians and Moroccans abandon the refugee camps scattered across Greek territory and head to Patras, to the west of the gulf of Corinth, from where they board ferries for Apulia.

    In recent months in Patras there have been constant clashes between various groups of migrants; the criminal situation near the old port has worsened.

    “Twice the number [of migrants] compared to January 2017,” now live in Patras, says Luath Glendinning, co-founder of the swiss NGO, FoodKIND.

    A few days ago an Afghan man shot and killed a 20-year-old compatriot, after which several cruel fights took place involving dozens of migrants.

    On Monday evening, there were renewed clashes between groups of Afghans. The Greek Coast Guard say the are faced with “a barely manageable” situation. In the middle of January an official of the Coast Guard told Ekathimerini that “guaranteeing the security of the port is a constant struggle”.

    Every day, dozens of migrants and refugees play what they call “the game”. It involves scaling the fence which surrounds the port, and getting onto one of the trucks departing for Brindisi by ferry unseen. Very few succeed.

    The Greek government, along with Italy, still hope a relocation system would transfer 160 000 asylum seekers to other EU countries.

    “The fight against scabies, for example, is a losing battle,” one German doctor says. “Everyone has scabies, and eradicating it is simply impossible: it is too dirty and the patients live in close quarters, such that after we have cured a particularly severe case, it returns a few days later”. Scabies is a highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei.

     

     

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