Early on Sunday morning hundreds of members of the Greek police force raided an unofficial refugee camp in the Greek port of Patras as part of an nationwide 'clean sweep" operation. The camp which has been in existence for nearly a decade was home to hundreds of immigrants, mainly from Afghanistan hoping to sneak aboard trucks headed for Italy.
Using bulldozers the local authorities razed to the ground the shacks and huts that until recently housed an estimated 150 people. Several fires were reported as a result of the raid and according to official police sources 44 minors were detained along with 30 adults who will be held in a reception centre until they are deported. The raid has been criticised as "inhuman" and called a "pogrom" by the left wing SYRIZA party and the Greek Communist party.
The ruling New Democracy party has also announced that it will set up internment camps throughout the country to house those who do not have a legal right to stay in the country. It should be noted that at present Greece grants asylum to 0.1% of those who apply for it and has been repeatedly criticised by Amnesty International, other European governments and the UNHCR for its treatment of refugees and immigrants.
On the other hand the latest poll carried out by Public Issue found that 93% of those questioned thought that Greece could not take in any more immigrants and that 62% said that immigration is probably harming Greece.
Stung by his party's poor showing in the recent European elections prime minister Kostas Karamanlis has decided to get tough on the issue of immigration in order to avoid losing more support to the far right LAOS party. With the possibility of general elections in either September or March 2010 at the latest Karamanlis is hoping that a tough stance on crime and immigrants will help bring back voters who have deserted the party in droves after two years of corruption and influence peddling scandals involving several government ministers