“I am in Crete by order of the prime minister, the island is on priorities of the government and that everyone is sure that we will stand by the self-government and the citizens regarding the issues that have arisen from the increased migration flows of the last months”. This was stated by the Minister of Immigration and Asylum from Chania Dimitris Kairidess, who participated in a broad meeting of all those involved with the immigrants who arrive in the south of the prefecture of Chania.

The minister, who is currently traveling to the island of Gavdos to be informed by the mayor about the situation with immigrants who arrive illegally, also said that “Crete is a key priority, the first at the moment, it is the most dynamic region of our country with very fast growth rates, with the forefront of tourism, the primary sector and at all levels”.

He recognizes both himself and the prime minister, as he said, that “Crete faces a problem for perhaps the first time, not in the dimensions that is often presented, but we are certainly here to always prepare so that we do not have issues. Our country has long experience with immigration and has developed an effective national system throughout Greece to deal with the problem. The Ministry of Immigration and Asylum is always next to the local communities, coordinates, cooperates with them and I believe, personally, that the best solution goes through this kind cooperation and coordination that we seek. We started from Chania precisely because they have been at the forefront of the problem. I thank all the self-administers of the prefecture of Chania, the deputies, the deputy governor, for the burden they have borne as a prefecture and especially the Municipality of Chania. We will support, we will find the best solution.”

The Minister also mentioned that the Ministry operates an aid fund, which until yesterday only aided Municipalities within which hospitality structures operate: “With a special article in the bill that we submitted and discussed in the Cabinet on Friday, we can henceforth finance any Municipality in the country which is under immigration pressure and has no infrastructure. We get the flexibility and we will be able to help. The problem is not only for the Municipality of Chania, it is a wider issue and the central government is helping. For this reason, in a little while I will be in Gavdos, later and tomorrow in Heraklion for a broad meeting with the coast guard, police, army, self-governing and productive bodies to find the best solution to this constant communication that we must have”. According to the minister, before Easter the bill will be passed so that the disbursements are immediate, “…to be able to respond to the problem”. Also, with regard to Gavdos, he said that “there will be an organization for the immediate transfer and promotion of the immigrants to Malakasa for their registration and identification. Increased flows are an issue, it is a problem, we have not faced it in previous years on the island, but I assure everyone that we are here to ensure that there is absolutely no problem, with safety first and foremost for the local community and citizens us”.

For his part, the deputy regional governor Nikos Kalogeris said that with the visit of the minister it was seen that there is recognition of the problem and there will be immediate solutions for reception, transport, hospitality and also for the financial part of the problem that concerns the Municipalities. The meeting was attended by the member of parliament of Chania of the New Democracy, Alexandros Markogiannakis, who emphasized that “… there is a willingness and methodical attitude from the government not only for Crete but for the whole country and for Europe as well. Disposition for solutions in many directions”. He recalled the international agreement between the European Union and Egypt, “… which will have positive developments in relation to the immigration issue. And internally, however, with the presence of the minister in Chania, we see the interest in helping the state to better coordinate with the services and municipalities that are under pressure from the immigration flows”. Also Chania Member of Parliament of the New Democracy Sevi Voloudaki told Mr. Kairides that “the port authority must definitely be strengthened with human resources since it cannot meet the burden it is called upon to bear after the increased flows of the last few months”. “I also asked for the police to be strengthened, because they also bear a heavy burden, such as that of transportation and other actions related to security. Police officers have a serious shortage problem. Finally, I asked for direct funding for the Municipalities who bear the burden of feeding, hosting, and housing the immigrants, and those involved in serving the immigrants,” he clarified.

The mayor of Chania, Panagiotis Simandirakis, spoke about the need to coordinate services and actions, “… so that we can respond to the challenge of the times. The absolute readiness for cooperation was expressed by all the agencies involved so that we can cover the present needs and we thank the Ministry for responding to the first and basic requests that exist from the local government. Issues that mainly concern financial support but also further coordination of all the necessary actions so that we can manage the problem that exists. What I want to state is that it is for an issue that concerns the whole country, the whole of Europe. There has been a change in migration flows lately. I am sure that in the spirit of cooperation that was clearly seen during our discussion with the minister and also tomorrow in Heraklion, we will be able to get better results, which primarily concern the coverage of needs at a humanitarian level. As well as in the routing of all procedures so that there is their immediate movement to the mainland”.