Athens mayor hoping for reduction in drug addicts

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis believes that there will be a fall in crime in the city center from next month, when drug rehabilitation centers are relocated.

?Drug addicts will begin leaving the downtown are in mid-October when the methadone centers move,? he told Skai radio.

Twelve new methadone centers opened at hospitals around Attica on Friday with the aim of gradually reducing the backlog of 3,500 drug addicts who are waiting for assistance.

Until now, users had relied on the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) centers to receive treatment. But the buildings became synonymous with rising crime in their surrounding areas and the lack of resources to deal with the demand for help.

The two OKANA centers in downtown Athens are due to be shut down in November.

Kaminis acknowledged that Athens is suffering from persistent crime and the gradual flow of people out of the city.

?There is a general sense of insecurity on the streets,? said Kaminis. ?The municipal police are not a real police force, crime and prostitution must be tackled by the police.

?People are leaving the city and its suburbs to move to villages. Hotels and shops in the center are emptying out.

?We will try to fill two hotels with young people,? said Kaminis, referring to an initiative to encourage young Greeks to live in downtown Athens on subsidized rents.

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