Europe

Moscow camp set up for illegal migrants after raids

Police check men for work permits at a Moscow market, 30 July
Image caption Police have been carrying out ID checks at markets in Moscow

Russian civil emergencies staff are building a camp in Moscow to house nearly 1,400 illegal migrants amid a wave of raids.

Tents and field kitchens are being erected in the north-east of the city to house the migrants arrested at a garment factory on Wednesday.

Many detainees are Vietnamese, but they include Egyptians and Syrians too.

Moscow has also cracked down on illegal migrants from ex-Soviet states after a brawl at a market on Saturday.

On that day, a policeman received a serious head injury at the city's Matveyevsky Market, when fighting began as they they tried to arrest a man accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old girl.

Both the policeman's suspected attackers and the attempted rape suspect were arrested.

But the brawl, which was caught on video and published by Russia's lenta.ru news website, also embarrassed the city's police force and led to the sacking of six police officers and investigations into the behaviour of two others.

In addition to the raid on the garment factory, Moscow police have arrested at least 1,000 other people since Monday, said to be mainly migrants from ex-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. At least 250 have been charged with migration violations.

Porridge and biscuits

The camp being set up on Second Irtyshsky Proyezd is equipped with toilets and washing facilities, officials told Russian media. Detainees will be fed buckwheat porridge, biscuits and rations, they said.

The detainees, who include pregnant women, will be kept in the camp until their cases are heard by a court.

Image caption Vietnamese nationals have been working illegally in Russia's textile industry for years

Those arrested were found living in unsanitary conditions in warehouses.

Vietnamese migrants have been working illegally in Russia's textile industry for years, often in conditions of near-slavery, as a BBC Russian Service report discovered last year.

Russia increasingly relies on cheap immigrant labour, much of it from Central Asia, where many families depend on migrant earners.

Millions of Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz people have migrated to Moscow and other parts of Russia in recent years, in search of work.

However, the presence of large numbers of migrants has fuelled social tensions.

Often poorly paid and badly housed, they are predominantly Muslim, creating tensions with central Russia's mainly Orthodox Christian population, and they frequently face discrimination. Moscow's lack of mosque space is a particular sore point.

Russian officials have also voiced concern about the involvement of migrants in crime, such as the trafficking of heroin from Tajikistan.

The police too are often accused of turning a blind eye both to illegal migration and abuses against migrants, in return for bribes.

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