Athens, Aug 18 Greek police entered the Eleonas refugee camp on Wednesday, the only one inside Athens and which housed some 1,500 people, to evict the refugees and relocate them to other camps in the country.
Notis Mitarakis, Greece’s migration minister, announced this this morning in a tweet in which he also lamented the resistance of a group of “immigrants and solidarity”.
The protesters erected barricades before the arrival of the police forces, with whom they exchanged tear gas, stun grenades and stones, according to Greek media.
Despite the deployment carried out by the authorities, they only managed to consent to the transfer of 30 of the several hundred migrants who were still there, a tactic that, according to the NGO Solidarity With Migrants, is used as “lever to pressure, divide and repress the block of immigrant women who are fighting”, and they allege that said consent was obtained “after many threats and lies from the camp’s management”.
The refugees refuse to move because they do not want a “second uprooting” by being transferred to camps in the interior of the country, but demand to remain there until the authorities assure them a home within the city.
Likewise, they request the renewal of the workers who provided them with psychological and legal support and who, with the closure of the camp, lose their jobs since their transfer to other camps is not planned.
Another reason for their refusal to transfer is that they live in “harmony” with the people of the countryside and have access to education and health, which work better than in the interior of the country, according to the Workers’ Initiative organization; In addition, they assure that the closure of this camp supposes “breaking” the attempts to integrate these people.
The MeRA25, the leftist party of former finance minister Yanis Varufakis, condemned the “brutal repression of the Mitsotakis regime” and recalled its opposition to the evacuation of the camp, which was used by the government as a sign of the quality of the Greek refugee camps.
Its closure was scheduled for May 30, but the numerous protests by immigrants, supported by various organizations, have forced the authorities to postpone the definitive closure, although there have been some transfers in recent months.
The Athens City Council approved its closure by a narrow majority and as part of a plan to erect a commercial area and even a soccer stadium in that economically depressed area.