updated 10/5/2008 8:58:26 PM ET 2008-10-06T00:58:26

The Greek government said Sunday it would build a housing facility for some 1,000 illegal immigrants who have been camping in the open in the western port city of Patras.

For years illegal immigrants have gravitated toward Patras, a major maritime hub where many hope to smuggle themselves onto ships or ship-bound trucks.

In the past most migrants in Patras were Kurds from Turkey and Iraq, but today they are all Afghans, said Nondas Paschos, communications director for the Greek office of the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders.

Paschos said the migrants may not want to move to the new housing facility, which the government said would be about 9 miles away, because it would be harder to get aboard ships.

The Ministry of Interior said the facility would be built far from inhabited areas in order to ensure "public tranquility and the safety of the inhabitants ... with full respect for human rights."

Paschos said that more important than the facility's location was "provision of adequate medical care and psychological services."

"These are pretty healthy people overall; after all, they had to withstand months, or even a year on the road before they reached Greece. Some have developed respiratory infections and skin problems, while a few have injuries from trying to hold on into departing trucks," he said.

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