German NGO to fund facility for refugees in northern Greece

6 May 2016
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Plans are afoot for the creation of a new reception center for refugees near Thermi, east of Thessaloniki, funded by a German nongovernmental organization, Kathimerini understands.

Representatives of a large German NGO recently visited Thessaloniki for talks with local officials about creating the center, which would hold up to 1,500 refugees, Kathimerini has learned. The NGO is said to be offering 5 million euros for use by local authorities.

Meanwhile, migrants living in a makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni in northern Greece are continuing their efforts to cross the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia despite a crackdown at the frontier by FYROM border guards.

On Thursday, a group of around 100 refugees approached the barbed wire fence that forms the border between the two countries but were pushed back by police.

According to media in FYROM, approximately 800 migrants have tried to cross the border in the past two days alone.

Greece’s Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas Thursday reiterated his intention to remove migrants from the camp in a peaceful fashion but gave no time frame for the evacuation.

“[The camp at] Idomeni must be dismantled and will be dismantled,” he said. He added that migrants whose residence permits have expired will get them automatically renewed by authorities when they are relocated to state-run reception centers.

More than 10,000 people are currently living in the Idomeni camp, with around 5,000 more in a state-run facility in Elliniko, the site of the old Athens airport, and thousands more in other makeshift camps across the country.

On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed the extension of emergency border controls inside the passport-free Schengen area, declaring that tighter checks were justified by shortfalls in Greece’s management of the European Union’s external border.

Meanwhile, under a new proposal to overhaul the EU’s asylum laws, member-states refusing to accept refugees could face large fines.

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