After we checked the assertions of VMRO-DPMNE and some media outlets, we managed to confirm the news about building a new construction for sheltering foreigners, but that doesn’t mean a new, second center, instead, a new one shall replace the existing, tattered construction in Gazi Baba Municipality. What certainly won’t be built, as it was claimed in the social media and in some media outlets, is a camp for thousands of new migrants or a new shelter center besides the existing one
Author: Teo Blazhevski
Skopje won’t have a new refugee center. De facto, there will be a new construction, but that doesn’t mean that the capital will have two centers. Instead, the new is supposed to replace the existing one in Gazi Baba that was put in use in 2005 and is utterly incompatible and offers meager conditions. This was officially confirmed by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and opposes the speculations disseminated by certain media outlets and individuals saying, that the authorities intend to build new shelter centers for refugees from the Middle East and Asia.
MOI: NEW CONSTRUCTION FOR THE EXISTING SHELTER CENTER FOR FOREIGNERS
While investigating the story, Truthmeter compared both the statements and the facts, and we arrived at a conclusion that the location, previously owned by the Government of the RM (probably the former Army warehouse) was allocated to the MOI back in December 2017. This decision is published in the Official Gazette number 190, page 74, titled “Decision on permanent allocation of real estate to the Ministry of Interior”. The first article contains information that it is actually the land registry lot 35 in Bardovci, Karposh Municipality, and that MOI got a few one-storey constructions varying from 13 to almost 500 square meters in area (22 constructions), or 4.483 m2 in total.
Given these facts, we enquired the Government of the RM directly to clarify the entire story. The reply given by the Ministry of Interior is quoted verbatim below:
The Ministry of Interior rejects all public insinuations and speculations regarding the building of refugee camps in the Republic of Macedonia.
In order to inform the public truthfully, we point out that the Republic of Macedonia, in compliance with the legal regulations, has “Skopje” – a functioning shelter center for foreigners located in Gazi Baba since 2005.
We emphasize that a new construction will be built in the upcoming period, but only to replace the existing shelter center. The funds are provided by the EU, via the “Migration and asylum, border management and fight against terrorism and organised crime” IPA 2016 Programme.
The MOI explains that the poor condition of the existing center, which has been established during the visit of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is the sole reason for such a decision:
Namely, the shelter center is currently located in a complex in Gazi Baba Municipality, which originally had a entirely different purpose and is totally incompatible with the purpose for which it has been used in the last more than 13 years. Although construction works for improving the accommodation conditions have been undertaken previously, this construction still cannot meet the essential standards for accommodation of foreigners, especially the vulnerable categories – women, children, persons with disabilities.
In addition, during its visit, 6-17 October 2014, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment issued preliminary observations which announce that this Center is in an exceptionally poor condition.
Pursuant to the European guidelines, the Republic of Macedonia is obligated to provide adequate standards for accommodation of foreigners who comply with the conditions for accommodation in such construction – is said in MOI’s reply.
VMRO-DPMNE AND CAROVSKA
This erroneous story has been circulating for months already, but it became a hot topic when persons close to VMRO-DPMNE posted on Facebook that in Bardovci and in Skopje’s surroundings “SDSM’s junta is going to build a gargantuan camp for thousands of migrants”.
It remains unclear how Bardovci has been replaced with Vizbegovo, but the Minister of labor and social policy, Mila Carovska, warned on Facebook that VMRO-DPMNE disseminates fake news and that no refugee center is going to be built. Instead, Homeless Persons Center has been planned in Vizbegovo, which will take in 80 persons who live on the streets. Carovska corrected herself in less than 48 hours in the interview given for Prizma on 2 July 2018, where she stated that “the documents published by VMRO-DPMNE have been issued by other institutions and the relevancy thereof ought to be verified by the issuing body.”
The same day, when the Minister of labor and social policy made her first statement, Dimche Arsovski, one of VMRO-DPMNE’s spokespersons, asserted that Carovska is wrong. Arsovski displayed a document that he claimed shows clearly that “a shelter center for foreigners” is what is planned.
Afterwards, the party provided to the media scanned documents issued by the Spatial Planning Agency, which confirmed that the Agency submitted a data request to multiple institutions in June this year and notified them that the Annual Program for Financing the Drafting of Urban Plans ought to be amended, so the Bardovci land registry lot can be incorporated.
According to what Truthmeter ascertained, new shelter center for foreigners will be built, but what is planned is only new construction for the existing Shelter Center. What certainly won’t be built, as it was said in the social media and by some media outlets, is a camp for thousands of new migrants or a new shelter center besides the existing one in the territory of Skopje, in Gazi Baba.