Syrian refugees refuse to move from Syntagma Square protest site

A group of around 200 refugees from war-torn Syria who have been camped out in front of Parliament at Syntagma Square for some 20 days as they seek asylum in northern Europe, on Tuesday resisted efforts by the City of Athens to transfer the women and children from the group to a municipal shelter.

An Interior Ministry official is trying to break the deadlock by compiling a list of the refugees in order to secure them asylum in Greece, though the protesters have said that they want to be granted permission to leave the country and join their families in other parts of the European Union.

Secretary General for the Population and Social Cohesion Angelos Syrigos has been in negotiations with representatives of the group for the past week, though a resolution did not appear any closer on Tuesday.

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, meanwhile, asked that the women and children – some of whom are unaccompanied – be moved to a shelter normally reserved for abused women for their safety as they are currently sleeping in makeshift shelters made of plastic sheeting.

The protesters, however, refused to board a bus dispatched by the municipal authority on Tuesday despite two days of heavy rainfall.

Speaking on Mega television on Tuesday morning, Kaminis suggested that the women and children were being coerced to remain at the protest site.

“It is unacceptable that the children are being used as shield and are not being allowed, along with their mothers, to make use of the accommodation being offered,” Kaminis said.