NEWS

Fears for safety of evicted migrants

Following the recent rape of a 3-year-old Afghan girl, Health Ministry officials and government advisers have expressed concern that operations to clean squatters out of abandoned buildings in Athens are leading to authorities having no records of undocumented migrants sleeping in the street. The attack on the girl, who has not been named, took place in a square in Athens where her homeless family had been sleeping. It is alleged that an attacker, who authorities believe to be a portly Greek-speaking man who wears a crucifix, pulled the child aside while her parents slept and raped her behind some bushes. Authorities did not identify the square where the attack is alleged to have taken place. The family has been sleeping rough since July, when Athens Prefecture employees emptied out a building that had been taken over by squatters. The police arrested a number of undocumented immigrants who had been living in the property but the details of other occupants were not recorded. «The draft law that we are preparing for the political asylum system decrees that vulnerable groups, whether they apply for asylum or not, should be protected,» said Afrodite Al Saleh, an adviser to the Citizens’ Protection Ministry. «Authorities should take them to hostels run by the Health Ministry until we can find out more about them.» A Health Ministry official who wished to remain anonymous was scathing about the prefecture’s cleanup operations. «How can they remove people from the building without recording their details?» he asked. «They are obliged to take down the information and inform authorities. If they are members of vulnerable groups, we have to help them. But the prefecture does not cooperate with anyone and operates on the border of legality.»