NEWS

Greece hopeful of moving migrants from Piraeus but tension grows at Elliniko

STRATOS KARAKASIDIS

TAGS: Migration, EU

Authorities are hoping to convince hundreds of refugees and migrants to leave the unofficial camps at Idomeni and Piraeus in the coming days, as tension builds up at other facilities.

The government aims to transport around 1,500 people from the camp at the Piraeus passenger terminal by the end of the week and said that four buses full of migrants had left Idomeni in northern Greece on Monday.

The refugees from Piraeus will be taken to Skaramagas, west of Athens, where the army has created another temporary facility to house the migrants who have found themselves trapped in Greece.

Officials are hoping the fact that some refugees have already moved to the camp and found conditions to be good will help them persuade others to leave the overcrowded site at Piraeus, where more than 4,100 people are currently camped.

However, concerns mounted on Monday over the situation at a reception center for refugees and migrants at the site of the capital’s old airport in Elliniko, southern Athens, where thousands of desperate people are living in cramped and tense conditions.

In a letter to the Interior, Immigration and Defense ministries, the head of the real estate company designated to oversee the management of the Elliniko plot described the situation at the site as “out of control and harboring serious risks.” In the letter, Soultana Spyropoulou noted that a three-month agreement to host migrants at the site expired at the end of March and had envisaged 700 people, not the approximately 6,000 currently residing there.

Police officers who have been assigned to guard the site report daily brawls between groups of migrants as well as thefts and even cases of rape.

The mayors of Elliniko and the neighboring municipalities of Alimos and Glyfada are to discuss the situation in a crisis meeting on Tuesday.

Meanwhile government officials expressed concerns about the behavior of activists believed to be encouraging migrants to breach Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In comments to Kathimerini, the spokesman of the coordinating committee for refugees, Giorgos Kyritsis, noted that some volunteers are genuinely helping the refugees.

Others however have a different agenda, he claimed. “There are people who believe that the continued presence of refugees at Piraeus and Idomeni is exerting moral pressure on European governments to open the borders,” he said.

Kyritsis berated such activists for “thinking that the elite will be moved when they see the children as they are,” apparently referring to television footage and photographs of refugee children at the border.

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