Migrants jump on a freight train in Thessaloniki in a bid to cross from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
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 on Wednesday.
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 on Wednesday, 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.