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[ALBSA-Info] Registration begins: KathimeriniGazhebo at aol.com Gazhebo at aol.com
Wed Jun 6 12:41:30 EDT 2001
Registration begins 20,000 immigrants queue at municipal offices but few apply for permits EPA Squashed in a deep press outside the only registration center functioning in central Athens, hundreds of illegal immigrants queue for information on the legalization process which started yesterday. A minority tabled applications, while only a few had all the necessary documents. The process, intended to offer temporary, six-month residence permits to an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants resident in Greece, ends on August 2. The legalization process for an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants living in Greece lumbered off slowly yesterday with some 20,000 people queuing outside local council offices all over the country, mainly to seek information on the procedure. "I came to find out what I must do," a young Iraqi man waiting outside the Athens municipality office on Maisonos Street, near Vathi Square in the city center, told Kathimerini. "But I will have to stay off work for a second day, which will be a problem. They want a lot of papers, and I don't know if I will be able to collect them in time." Many hundreds of immigrants crowded outside the office from early in the morning, waiting for their turn. Most just wanted information, while the majority of those queuing to register were told that they lacked the necessary papers. This usually included a receipt of payment for the 50,000-drachma registration fee, as well as the social security fund coupons proving that their bearers have paid a year's contributions. "I have no proof that I have lived in Greece for a year," 37-year-old household help Galina from Ukraine said. "I live in the house where I work, so I have no rent receipts or public utility bills. Now they tell me to buy 250 coupons for the year 2000 from the OGA farmers' fund, which are cheapest. I have already paid the 50,000 drachma fee; where will I find another 100,000 for the coupons?" Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou visited the Maisonos Street center, and voiced satisfaction with what she saw. "Both the preparations carried out and the flow (of applicants) are most satisfactory," she said, adding that immigrants could receive information regarding the legalization procedure over the phone on the 1464 hotline. The Municipality of Athens has launched an information campaign by handing out leaflets to the estimated 20,000 immigrant children attending lessons at local schools. This is also intended to circumvent the scores of intermediaries who hang around registration centers offering immigrants to go through the procedure for them, for a fee. However, only one of the seven registration centers supposed to be functioning in the municipality opened for business yesterday. Over 300 applications were submitted, while 1,118 appointments were made over the phone. Immigrants are only admitted if they have made an appointment on the 195 line. Another four centers are expected to open today in Athens, at 152 Harilaou Trikoupi Street, 22 Bairaktari Street, 31 Kormouli Street and 11-13 Galaxia Street.
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