Tensions rise at city migrant camp
Mayor calls for clear-up, offers new venue as pressure on islands continues
The presence of hundreds of refugees and migrants in the capital’s squares continued to cause problems yesterday, with Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis calling for an immediate solution to the situation at Victoria Square, which has been turned into a makeshift refugee camp.
A brawl broke out in the square yesterday night, reportedly between migrants and suspected people-smugglers. A group of lo- cal residents have called on shops to stay closed today in protest. Sources told Kathimerini that the group includes “extremists,” apparently referring to far-rightists who have staged protests in the area in the past. According to witnesses, police officers who had been nearby during the brawl yesterday night kept a distance.
Kaminis slammed the lack of intervention by authorities and, in comments to Skai, said mu- nicipal authorities could provide an additional venue for hosting migrants on the condition that Victoria Square is cleared. City Hall set up an open facility over the summer in the area of Elaionas and migrants are also being accommodated temporarily in the Tae Kwon Do Stadium in Faliro, while authorities are considering open additional gymnasiums.
As local authorities scramble for accommodation, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to pour into Greece, chiefly via its sea border with Turkey. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 520,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, 350,000 via Greece. The eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Kos have borne the brunt of the influx.