NEWS

Aid groups stick up for migrants

The aid group Doctors of the World said yesterday that it would set up a mobile unit on the run-down premises of the old Athens appeals court building on Socratous Street from today to help some 600 illegal immigrants squatting there and draw attention to the need for «concrete and realistic solutions» to the migrant situation in Athens. Meanwhile left-wing and migrant protection groups said they would stage a press conference at the building at noon today to raise awareness about the problems faced by resident migrants who live in extremely squalid conditions. The groups have invited «all those interested in finding solutions to the serious problems faced by all residents of this city, whether they be locals or migrants.» This is to be followed up by a symbolic sit-in at the building on Saturday at 2 p.m. Following talks with Athens Deputy Mayor Eleftherios Skiadas, who is responsible for matters of social solidarity, Doctors of the World said it would set up a unit at the Socratous Street building and remain there «as long as necessary.» In a statement, they called for «concrete and realistic solutions that will guarantee a minimum level of decent shelter for those who need help.» They also expressed opposition to «demonstrations targeting immigrants and fueling an atmosphere of bigotry, fanaticism and racism.» The reference is thought to regard a far-right rally scheduled to take place tomorrow afternoon in central Athens; it is unclear exactly where. The demonstration is one of three planned for the capital tomorrow. The first, an anti-fascist rally organized by left-wing groups and labor unions, is due to begin at Omonia Square at 5 p.m. Another demonstration, scheduled to begin at Kaningos Square at the same time, is being organized by anarchist groups under the slogan «solidarity with migrants.» It was unclear yesterday whether police would be on standby for any possible clash between leftist and anarchist demonstrators.