Polls show split views on refugees

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Only 5 per­cent of refugees cur­rently liv­ing in Athens want to re­main in Greece, with the rest all keen to con­tinue their jour­neys to­ward western and north­ern Europe, par­tic­u­larly Ger­many, ac­cord­ing to sur­vey car­ried out by Pub­lic Is­sue on be­half of Athens City Hall’s ob­ser­va­tory for refugees and made pub­lic yes­ter­day.

The same re­search showed that most Greeks want au­thor­i­ties to show sol­i­dar­ity to refugees and pro­vide them with school­ing and health­care, but do not want them to stay in the coun­try per­ma­nently. Specif­i­cally, 66 per­cent of Athe­ni­ans polled by Pub­lic Is­sue said they did not be­lieve the pres­ence of refugees in their neigh­bor­hood was a prob­lem, with 57 per­cent in fa­vor of show­ing sup­port and 72 per­cent say­ing that child refugees should join lo­cal schools.

How­ever, the same study found that 44 per­cent of Athe­ni­ans re­gard refugees as a po­ten­tial threat and 54 per­cent said they thought they could not be ab­sorbed by Greek so­ci­ety.

A sim­i­lar pro­por­tion, 44 per­cent, said they op­posed long-de­layed gov­ern­ment plans to build a mosque in the cap­i­tal.

Of an es­ti­mated 18,000 mi­grants liv­ing in the cap­i­tal, be­tween 2,500 and 3,000 are liv­ing in squats with the re­main­der in state-run fa­cil­i­ties. At one of the cap­i­tal’s key re­cep­tion cen­ters, in Elaionas, down­town Athens, the aver­age age of res­i­dent refugees is just 20.

At a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, pre­sent­ing the find­ings of the re­search, Athens Mayor Gior­gos Kami­nis said mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties have al­ready gone be­yond the call of duty. “We found our­selves fac­ing the big­gest hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis since World War Two with­out any cen­tral plan­ning,” he said, with a clear dig at the gov­ern­ment.

An army of­fi­cer stands guard on the road Saran­ta­poro, in Elas­sona, cen­tral Greece, where a Greek mil­i­tary he­li­copter crashed yes­ter­day, killing four of­fi­cers and in­jur­ing a fifth. The cause of the crash re­mained un­clear.

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