Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Spyros Vougias yesterday heralded an investigation into the fate of several hundred thousand euros in European Union funding released to the previous conservative government for the purpose of accommodating a relentless influx of illegal immigrants into Greece from neighboring Turkey.
“We are going to look at where this money went as we have noted serious problems with infrastructure and outstanding debts resulting from the provision of care to migrants,” Vougias told reporters in a briefing in Athens yesterday. He referred to the example of the Pagani reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos which reportedly owes some 2 million euros to suppliers. During a visit to the center on Wednesday, Vougias condemned conditions there as “wretched and inhumane” and pledged to work with other government ministries to improve the quality of accommodation offered to would-be migrants and refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey.
Yesterday a group of 47 residents of the center lodged an official complaint about the alleged beating of a 17-year-old migrant on Wednesday afternoon when police were called to the facility to contain the unrest that had broken out following the departure of the visiting minister. According to the complaint submitted by the migrants, the 17-year-old sustained serious injuries to his head, legs and arms after allegedly being beaten by officers.
During his briefing with reporters in Athens yesterday, Vougias added that the government would push for more operational support from the European Commission in view of the particular burden Greece faces as an external border state of the EU and the problems created by Turkish authorities which refuse to honor a bilateral pact for the repatriation of migrants, signed by Athens and Ankara in 2003. “The prime minister will broach the subject during the EU summit [in December] so that the EC can assume its responsibilities and assess the role of Turkey in this situation,” Vougias said.