Roma camp off Mesogeion Avenue set for demolition amid reactions

A Roma encampment that has stood just off Mesogeion Avenue behind the present-day Nomismatokopio metro station for the best part of 40 years is set for demolition on Tuesday, with residents of the settlement trying to block the operation from going ahead and resisting orders to evacuate.

A group of some 40 residents has blocked the southbound lanes of Mesogeion – a major thoroughfare linking downtown Athens with the Greek capital’s northern suburbs – since the early hours of the day, causing major delays for commuters.

Another group has set fire to plastic dumpsters and tires to stop the demolition crew from entering the back of the camp on Sarantoporou Street.

Riot police are expected to be dispatched to disperse the protesters and guard the operation, which will be carried out by the Interior Ministry’s General Secretariat for Decentralized Administration.

Speaking on Skai TV on Tuesday morning, the mayor of Halandri, where the camp is located, Simos Roussos, argued against the demolition, saying that “the solution cannot be imposed in such an authoritarian manner and using these means.”

He accused the secretariat of running a “military operation” and voiced concerns that the demolition is “turning Halandri into a war zone.”

In the initial phase of the project, authorities hope to tear down 12 of a total of 65 residences.

The plan is to relocate the Roma residents of the encampment, which is home to numerous children and elderly people according to protesters, to a site in Megara in western Attica.

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