As authorities revised the time frame for the completion of new migrant facilities on the Greek mainland, local officials this weekend warned that a makeshift camp at the site of the old international airport at Elliniko, south of Athens, poses a major public health hazard.
“The arrivals terminal at Elliniko is the first reception center in Attica that needs to be evacuated. It is simply not suitable to accommodate people,” Deputy Regional Governor for Southern Athens Christos Kapantais told Kathimerini.
Local officials, as well as foreign observers, have warned about the poor quality of shelter, sanitation and security at the site.
Last week, a terminal basement hosting more than 1,000 people, including a large number of children, was flooded by sewage. Also last week, a Health Ministry confidential report warned about the health risks to the migrants as well as to residents.
Authorities have since cleaned up the waste, but the number of mosquitoes in the area is said to have spiked.
Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said last week that the new facilities where the people staying at Elliniko will be moved will be operational by Christmas and not by September, as the government had originally pledged.
Delays have frustrated municipal officials.
“Mouzalas has been promising to evacuate the Elliniko site since May, and now it’s almost September,” the municipality’s mayor, Ioannis Konstantantos, told Kathimerini.
“Other municipalities in Attica are organizing migrant solidarity concerts, sending us the goods they collect. Why don’t they take in some [people] instead and let us hold solidarity concerts?”