Cleanup of center’s filthy flats under way

Municipal staff yesterday cleaned up an abandoned apartment building on Menandrou Street in the capital’s historic center where dozens of immigrants have been living in dangerously squalid conditions. City Hall officials said the cleanup was the first of many «decontamination operations» planned for a section of the historic center where semi-derelict apartment blocks and cheap hotels have been deluged by hundreds of migrants, many illegal, as well as drug addicts and others. According to officials, much of the Menandrou Street block was littered with human waste after a sewage pipe burst some days ago. The apartments, which migrants pay about 3 euros a day to rent, are also infested with rodents, cockroaches and fleas. According to Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros, there are at least 150 such buildings in the historic center. In some cases, as many as 100 migrants share a one-bathroom apartment. The light shafts in many buildings are used for garbage disposal, causing many fires. In the Menandrou Street building alone there have been seven fires. Many of the apartments are also carpeted in trash, heightening the public health risk for those who sleep and eat there. Yesterday’s cleanup on Menandrou Street, overseen by a public prosecutor, included repairs to broken sewage pipes, the decontamination of all floors and walls and the unblocking of the light shaft. Giorgos Dimopoulos, the deputy mayor responsible for waste management, said the same would be done in other blocks. «We are improving the living and sanitary conditions of the city’s economic migrants because our first priority is people,» he said.

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