Evros residents refuse to sell land for expansion of migrant camp

Migrant camp

Residents of the Fylakio community in Evros on the Greek-Turkish border are opposed to the possibility of expanding the Orestiada Outpost migrant camp.

The president of the community, Christos Tympakis, said to Sputnik Hellas that residents are “upset and angry” and stressed that they are not selling their plots of land for the new facilities.

Residents of the region are strongly opposed to the expansion of the migrant camp at the Identification and Reception Center (KYT) at the Orestiada Outpost on the Greek-Turkish border.

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Migrant camp at Fylakio, Evros.

The expansion of the existing structure in an area of ​​72 acres with a capacity of 1,500 people, has caused a lot of reactions in not only Orestiada, but across Evros, while the local organisations in the region have expressed their opposition to this.

Residents also criticized Minister of Asylum and Immigration Policy Notis Mitarakis when he visited the City Hall and the migrant camp on February 8, throwing bottles of water, eggs and crackers at him, while shouting slogans against the creation of the structure.

During Mitarakis’ visit to the Outpost Center, organisations and residents made their arguments so a new structure or expansion of the existing one to increase the hosting of illegal immigrants will not occur.

“The minister is puzzling and contradicting. Once he calls it a ‘new structure,’ and another an ‘existing structure’,” Tympakis said.

“He plays with words. In the last update we had, he writes that there will be no new structure, but an upgrade of the existing one,” he continued.

“But the upgrade hides a lot. How do we interpret it?” the community leader questioned.

“There may be an expansion, there may be population growth. We are not complacent,” Tympakis stressed.

“We are watching the events. The world is in turmoil, it is fierce and Mr. Mitarakis went crazy when he visited the migrant camp in the Outpost because we rejected all his arguments and he could not refute any argument from what we were saying,” he said.

“The minister told me, and what he said is confirmed by many people who were there and listened to him, as well as the MP Stavros Keletsis, who was next to him,” explained Tympakis.

As the president of Fylaki describes, there are two structures in the community: the migrant camp and the Pre-Departure Centre, which is a detention center.

As he explains, the Pre-Departure Centre “has been burned six times and is now being rebuilt.”

Tympakis underlined that except for the residents of the area, “all of Evros” is opposed to the new structure, while he pointed out that “it was the commitment of the Prime Minister and the government not to make any new structure other than that of Nestos.”

Greek-Turkish border at Evros.
Greek-Turkish border at Evros.

The residents of Fylaki, as Tympakis explains, have decided not to sell their fields in order for the existing structure to not be expanded.

“Some residents were harassed by the ministry. That is, they called the owners who have plots of land and said ‘he sold it, you are the only one left’ and so on,” Tympakis revealed.

“But people do not give the fields. They have been called and told that they will be ordered, expropriated and they are constantly harassed,” he continued.

“We have informed the people and we will not allow any expropriation or order to be made. In addition, there are no reasons for insistence,” Tympakis said, adding that Mitarakis’ argument is based on two hypothetical scenarios.

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Migrant camp at Fylakio, Evros.

“The whole argument of Mr. Mitarakis is based on two ‘ifs’: If there is an emergency and if the immigrants coming flooding, which is also offensive to us,” he said.

“Last year  we did not let anyone pass. Will we now let immigrants and Turks flood us?” concluded Tympakis.

READ MORE: Construction of Evros border fence is advancing rapidly, says Greek PM.