Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Refugee Camp in Athens: A desperate attempt to escape from war and persecutions

It is unbearably hot in Athens – and we can barely breath. Groups of people carrying supermarket bags are entering the central park Pedion Areos in Athens where dozens of migrants and refugees have set up camp in one of Athens’s largest parks.

Alejandra Ríos

August 1, 2015
Facebook Twitter Share

Refugee Camp in Athens in pictures

For two hundred families since the middle of July this park is their home – they are trying to survive. They want to continue their journey. Refugees are obliged to enter in contact with smuggling networks to leave their countries. They pay 1,000 per person to get smuggled from Turkey shore – six miles away in the distance – to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Kos. When they arrive on the islands, refugees are not provided with any assistance, aside from that provided by community volunteers. They left everything behind, trying to escape from war, persecutions, torture and other human rights violations. Arrivals to the Greek archipelago are already 60% higher than for the whole of 2014. According to Dimitra Koutsavli, spokesperson from Doctors of the World – Greece 600 people are arriving every day. This is a dramatic figure.

They are from Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries. However, when they arrive Greece they face a new deadlock, finding a failed asylum system and an inexistent system of first reception. We talked with volunteers from a social center for Migrants who explained: “Even if they could apply for asylum, they would not receive any kind of support from the Greek state, that is why they just want to leave from Greece.” They arrived at the port of Piraeus from Syria and hold a paper stating that they have a couple of days to decide what to do, stay in Greece or go to another country of the European Union.

Hidden from the main tourist attraction of the city, these 400 migrants encounter the indifference of the authorities and the state.

The park was designed in 1934 and its purpose was to honour the heroes of the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire. The park is a state-owned public ground, covering an area of 28 hectares. In front of the main entrance of the park there is an equestrian statue of king Constantine I.

An activist from an anarchist collective reminded us that this is the second refugee camp in Athens. A couple of months ago a group of Syrian refugees created a camp in Syntagma Square, but the police evicted them.

We approach a woman who was entering the park carrying bags containing nappies and food. She told us “solidarity doesn’t take a leave. In my workplace we gathered some emergency food and clothes so we could contribute as well.”

We talked with one activists of the coordinating group, Kazim Rooish, president of the Afghan community in Greece. He told us: “When the refugees find out that they don’t know where to sleep, what to eat they come here. They have been living in tents pitched in the park over the last few weeks.” He also told about the lack of help from the state and the authorities. They say that they are looking into solutions but so far nothing has been done to relieve the situation of this families.”

Kazim added that these families don’t want to stay in Greece; they want to go to another country of the European Union. Thousands of refugees will still keep on coming because war and violent situations”.

Amid of the economic crisis and the heat of the summer, the response of the citizens of Athens is overwhelming. There are solidarity initiatives by volunteers from NGOs that come to help clean the area. But people in the Exarchia quarter provide help too. Items are brought in by people on the spot are gathered, all those handed over by ordinary citizens that never ends coming by and giving whatever they can afford.

It is really inspiring to see people in solidarity work constantly on identifying the needs of the refugees and the migrants. This is a striking contrast to the lack of help of the government which only help was to install a tap for 200 families. The government has abandoned these families and is ignoring their demands. Hadn’t been for the help provided by the local community people in this camp would not have water, nor food, let alone to cover their basic needs.

The desperate journey of the refugees in Greece is a stain of shame for the the Greek government.

Facebook Twitter Share

Europe

“Antideutsche”: The Aberration of Germany’s Pro-Zionist Left

As Germany persists in its unwavering support of Israel and the total denial of its genocide, the German Left is conflicted over the issue. While leftists all over the world are showing solidarity with Palestine, a segment of the German Left is historically pro-Zionist. How did this movement, the so-called Antideutsche (Anti-Germans) come to be?

Seb Zürcher

February 21, 2024

Why German Media are Lying About the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the Free University of Berlin

A rally in front of the Free University of Berlin had as many journalists as demonstrators. This is yet another example of the international campaign to defame all protests against Israel's genocidal military campaign.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 16, 2024

Protests in Germany: “The Whole Regime Is Shifting to the Right”

In Germany, over 1.4 million people took to the streets to protest the Far Right this weekend. Left Voice interviewed Inés Heider, a social worker in Germany and activist of Klasse Gegen Klasse, our sister organization in Germany, about the mobilizations in recent days and the current political dynamics in Germany.

Inés In

January 25, 2024

The German Government Is Paving the Way for the Far Right

Tens of thousands of people are demonstrating against the AfD. But the government of Olaf Scholz is already implementing many of the AfD’s policies.

Nathaniel Flakin

January 19, 2024

MOST RECENT

The United States Is Trapped in the Middle East

As a result of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, the United States is again becoming deeply entrenched in the Middle East. This is a humiliating blow to President Biden, who promised to reassert U.S. imperialism by moving away from direct involvement in the region.

Samuel Karlin

February 22, 2024

With Rafah in the Crosshairs, the Working Class Can Stop the Genocide in Gaza

As Israel prepares an invasion of Rafah, workers’ organizations around the world must take action before it's too late.

James Dennis Hoff

February 21, 2024
CUNY workers at a demonstration hold a banner that reads "STRIKE TO SAVE CUNY."

CUNY Workers Launch New Strike Campaign

As Governor Hochul proposes another $528 million in cuts, workers at the City University of New York are fighting back.

Olivia Wood

February 12, 2024
Aftermath of Israeli bombing of Rafah, Gaza.

Israel Told Palestinians to Evacuate to Rafah — then Bombed Them

After instructing civilians to evacuate south, Israel has bombed the southern border city of Rafah. It’s not about eradicating Hamas — it’s ethnic cleansing.

Sou Mi

February 12, 2024