Locals speak against projected migrant detention center

On Wednesday locals of Mucenieki at a public deliberation repeatedly objected against building a migrant detention center on the outskirts of Rīga, editor-in-chief of the Rīga District Newspaper Ieva Karlsberga told Latvian Radio.

Mucenieki is Latvia's only asylum seeker center, originally built as a base for occupying Soviet forces..

Plans are underway to build a detention facility there that would take the load off the ovecrowded Daugavpils center for detained foreigners.

The locals said that the Interior Ministry's projected migrant detention center would in effect mean building a prison, according to Karlsberga.

The municipality called for public deliberation over the projected center as it could influence local life, however the deliberation is only of a consultative character and would not be binding to the project's authors.

About 70 people attended the debate, equipped with posters voicing fear that a prison will be constructed.

Representatives of the Interior Ministry said the center would be built there because they have the required facilities there, plus Rīga is nearby. They stressed it would not be a prison.

Along with that, the surrounding area would be improved and a new, multi-functional center full with a library would be built for the locals.

However locals objected saying they may be forced to leave Mucenieki, which would turn into a village for refugees, said Karlsberga.

Latvia has agreed to take in a total of 531 refugees from Italy and Greece, with the possibility that number could rise to a maximum of 776 if agreement can be reached with other EU member states. 

The first six refugees - two families with one child each - arrived in Latvia from Syria and Eritrea within the scheme early February.

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