Rush to get hot spots ready meets more resistance

9 February 2016
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Defense Minister Panos Kammenos vowed Monday that Greece would comply with European Union demands and have more refugee hot spots ready next week despite growing resistance to such projects on Kos and in other parts of Greece.

“The Defense Ministry has undertaken a pledge to complete the work for the centers by the 15th [of February],” Kammenos said as he presented to reporters the progress that has been made in making ready the five screening centers since the army took over responsibility for the projects.

The hot spot on Lesvos is the closest to being completed, with around 70 percent of the infrastructure in place. The center on Chios is roughly at the same stage. On Leros, 60 percent of the work has been completed, while on Kos it stands at just 30 percent and Samos is even further behind on 20 percent.

Transit centers are also being constructed in Schisto, Athens, and at Diavata, Thessaloniki, to house up to 4,000 people each for 72 hours.

The army has met considerable local resistance on Kos. Kammenos blamed local Mayor Giorgos Kyritsis and “70 to 80” locals. He accused them of representing “interests that work with far-right organizations” that seek to exploit migrants and, as such, are against the creation of the camps.

On Monday afternoon a rudimentary explosive device went off outside the police station on the island. It is the latest in a series of attacks against police on Kos. Officers have been targeted with firebombs, flares and firecrackers. This prompted the police officers’ union to express fears that the situation on Kos may start to resemble Keratea, the eastern Attica town where resistance from locals a few years ago prevented construction on a landfill taking place.

Four teams of riot police were sent to the island on Friday to guard the disused army camp at Pili, which is being converted into a hot spot. Six people aged between 17 and 24 were arrested on Sunday for attacks on riot squads.

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