Mi­grants leav­ing camps for city cen­ter

Po­lice clear cap­i­tal’s Vic­to­ria Square af­ter hun­dreds evicted from state re­cep­tion fa­cil­i­ties

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Cen­tral squares in Athens, and Vic­to­ria in par­tic­u­lar, are once again turn­ing into makeshift camps for mi­grants evicted from state camps or ac­com­mo­da­tion fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment by the gov­ern­ment that thou­sands of peo­ple who have se­cured refugee sta­tus must leave those fa­cil­i­ties.

Po­lice in­ter­vened yes­ter­day to trans­fer mi­grants and refugees from Vic­to­ria Square to state fa­cil­i­ties at Elaiona and Amyg­daleza, but it re­mained un­clear what their fate would be or if such po­lice op­er­a­tions will con­tinue.

The de­par­tures from re­cep­tion cen­ters and sub­si­dized ho­tels started ear­lier this month and had ini­tially been pro­gress­ing very slowly. How­ever, over the last 10 days, more than 800 refugees have left fa­cil­i­ties on the is­lands, chiefly from Lesvos where the Mo­ria camp re­mains woe­fully over­crowded. As a re­sult, large num­bers of mi­grants have come to Athens and set up camp, with Vic­to­ria Square be­com­ing in­creas­ingly crowded by the day, ac­cord­ing to lo­cals who say that fam­i­lies with chil­dren are sleep­ing in tents and on benches.

Vol­un­teers work­ing with mi­grants at Mo­ria say camp res­i­dents who had se­cured refugee sta­tus were in­formed that they must leave the fa­cil­ity in line with the de­ci­sion by the Mi­gra­tion Min­istry. Many had been re­luc­tant to leave due to the dif­fi­cul­ties they will face in se­cur­ing in­come and shel­ter. How­ever, when ru­mors cir­cu­lated that au­thor­i­ties were plan­ning de­por­ta­tions, many, in­clud­ing eco­nomic mi­grants, boarded fer­ries to Athens.

Lo­cal res­i­dents in the Vic­to­ria area told Kathimerin­i that crowds gather in the square most morn­ings be­fore de­part­ing, though it re­mains un­clear where they go. The mi­grants have re­port­edly been told to come to the square for guid­ance as to their next steps but it re­mains un­clear who is re­ceiv­ing them. One res­i­dent said that many sleep in the square overnight next to their suit­cases.

The prob­lem at Vic­to­ria was broached dur­ing an Athens City coun­cil meet­ing yes­ter­day with of­fi­cials un­der­lin­ing the need for au­thor­i­ties to of­fer food and shel­ter to the refugees. Na­sos Iliopou­los, a left­ist SYRIZA of­fi­cial and head of the Anoixti Poli (Open City) move­ment, yes­ter­day vis­ited the square. “Lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses can see that the sit­u­a­tion tak­ing shape is rep­re­hen­si­ble both for the home­less refugees as it is for the qual­ity of life in their neigh­bor­hood, which is only just start­ing to re­cover af­ter a se­ries of crises,” Anoixti Poli said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.