Aid group warns of crisis in city center

The Greek office of aid group Doctors of the World expressed concern yesterday about the growing number of illegal immigrants as well as homeless Greeks living in derelict homes, cheap hotels and burgeoning ghettos and warned that the situation has evolved into a «serious humanitarian crisis.» Yiannis Mouzalas said the organization had received requests for help from more than 11,000 people, mostly migrants, in the past month alone. Mouzalas called on authorities to improve migrants’ access to healthcare and a swelling population of homeless people, including pensioners whose incomes have taken a battering with the government’s austerity drive. According to the organization, much positive action could be taken if the government were to make good use of the 10 million euros per year in emergency funding it is entitled to until 2013 from the European Union. The head of the organization’s Athens office, Evgenia Thanou, said that homeless Greeks were increasingly seeking the support of aid groups for healthcare and food. «Recently we are seeing more and more Greeks coming in, particularly pensioners on very low incomes who cannot afford to pay for their medicines,» Thanou said. Members of the Roma community are also frequent visitors, as are a large number of uninsured Greek citizens. The organization is also lobbying the government to create community centers for immigrants in Athens and to set up offices offering legal counseling as well as job search centers for the growing ranks of the unemployed.