Athens has space but no cash to host migrants
Gov’t avoided tapping EU mechanism to stop Greece becoming transit country
As thousands of migrants and refugees continue to stream into Greece from Turkey, despite the worsening weather, authorities in Athens, where most of the new arrivals end up, say they lack the funding to host them all.
Although there are several venues that could be transformed into temporary accommodation, there is no money for such projects, local authorities say. A City of Athens official said there are sites where makeshift camps could be set up so that migrants can be relocated from central squares. One such site is next to a temporary facility for migrants that was set up in Elaionas over the summer. But to make the new site operational, authorities would need to make costly investments, including plumbing.
There are many empty hotels and other disused buildings that could be transformed into stopgap reception centers if private funding were offered as a temporary solution. But there has been little interest in offering help, possibly because others who have offered their services for free on the understanding that they would be recompensed have yet to receive any money.
Greece appealed for emergency aid from the European Union over the summer to deal with a growing migration crisis. But it did not seek to activate the EU’s civil protection mechanism, apparently due to fears that this would establish Greece as a transit country for migrants and refugees heading toward Western and Northern Europe, Kathimerini understands.