Greeks take to the streets against eviction of refugees in Athens

Published 24.06.2017 00:00
Updated 24.06.2017 12:12

Hundreds of people marched through Athens on Friday to protest a court ruling that will evict refugees and migrants from squats in the city.

Around 700 people marched from the City Plaza refugee squat to the Ministry of Migration building, chanting their support and carrying signs saying "Hands off squats".

Solidarity protests were held at the same time in front of Greek embassies in Germany, Austria and Belgium.

City Plaza is the largest of three squats cited in the court ruling, which stated that all three buildings must be evacuated.

The City Plaza building had been empty from 2010 to 2016, when activists occupied the building and repurposed it as a building with living spaces, healthcare, education and dining for migrants and refugees.

Over 1,500 people migrants and refugees have lived in City Plaza, many of them using the building as a temporary home while they find other accommodation in Greece or another European country.

However, City Plaza owner Aliki Papahela filed appeals for its evacuation that resulted in the court decision.

Activists state that there are around 4,000 empty buildings in Athens that could be used as temporary homes for refugees.

The court decision will leave City Plaza's 400 residents with no alternative to the refugee camps, which activists say are overcrowded and lack quality healthcare.

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis has supported the evictions, saying that the influx of refugees "does not legitimize anyone occupying arbitrarily public or private buildings to house those persons".

The predominantly leftist and anarchist neighborhoods of Exarchia has been supportive of refugees, organizing squats, social centers and soup kitchens in the neighborhood and in other parts of the city.

Activists are also angry at the left-wing Syriza government, which promised to offer citizenship to second-generation migrants and close migrant detention centers when it took power in 2015.

Syriza has since reversed these promises, as well as carrying out evictions and raids on squats in Athens, Thessaloniki and Lesbos.

It is estimated that squats provide housing for around 2,500 refugees in Athens alone.

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