The Latest: Greece opens center for unaccompanied minors
THESSALONIKI, Greece – The Latest on the influx of asylum-seekers and migrants in Europe (all times local):
Greek authorities have opened a new reception center for unaccompanied refugee children near Athens, following extensive criticism of existing facilities.
Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said Tuesday that the center at Paiania, just east of the Greek capital, would host up to 100 minors. It is funded by the International Organization for Migration, and run by the Doctors of the World charity.
Mouzalas said some 2,200 unaccompanied minors are currently in Greece, of whom 1,000 live in specialized accommodation. Some 60,000 refugees and other migrants have been trapped in the country following a series of border closures.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized living conditions for unaccompanied minors. Mouzalas said 25 are currently in police custody, for their own protection, and will be resettled by next week.
Police in northern Greece say they have arrested two Greek women suspected of trying to smuggle a group of Syrian refugees over the rugged border with Albania.
The suspects were discovered early Tuesday, driving two cars carrying a total of 18 Syrians, including six children, to the border in the northern Kastoria region.
Police said the refugees had been planning to continue their journey from Albania toward an unspecified northern European country.
About 60,000 refugees and other migrants have been trapped in Greece following a series of Balkan border closures earlier this year. All entered from Turkey, and had initially planned to transit the financially struggling country on their way to Europe's prosperous heartland.
Many pay gangs to smuggle them northward through Macedonia or Bulgaria, with Albania a rarer option.
Charities working with refugees and migrants in the camp in Calais are objecting to the government's plan to dismantle the camp and disperse the occupants.
Although no official date has been set for the closure of the slum-like camp, known as the "jungle," the French government has announced it will shut it by the end of the year. The first group of migrants is expected to be moved as soon as next week.
Before a meeting at France's Interior Ministry, homelessness charity Emmaus asked for postponing the closure because it says "all conditions are not met for an efficient humanitarian operation to take place."
A church organization, Secours Catholique, says it's also opposed to cleaning up the area, where up to 10,000 migrants are now living in squalid conditions.