Athens mayor calls for action as tensions rise at makeshift camp

Athens mayor calls for action as tensions rise at makeshift camp

The presence of hundreds of refugees and migrants in the capital’s squares continued to cause problems on Wednesday, with Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis calling for an immediate solution to the situation at Victoria Square, which has been turned into a makeshift refugee camp.

A brawl broke out in the square on Wednesday night, reportedly between migrants and suspected people-smugglers. A group of local residents have called on shops to stay closed on Thursday in protest.

Sources told Kathimerini that the group includes “extremists,” apparently referring to far-rightists who have staged protests in the area in the past.

According to witnesses, police officers who had been nearby during the brawl on Wednesday night kept a distance. Kaminis slammed the lack of intervention by authorities and, in comments to Skai, said municipal authorities could provide an additional venue for hosting migrants on the condition that Victoria Square is cleared.

City Hall set up an open facility over the summer in the area of Elaionas and migrants are also being accommodated temporarily in the Tae Kwon Do Stadium in Faliro, while authorities are considering open additional gymnasiums.

As local authorities scramble for accommodation, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to pour into Greece, chiefly via its sea border with Turkey.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 520,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, 350,000 via Greece. The eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Kos have borne the brunt of the influx.

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