Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis sent a letter to Citizen Protection and Migration Policy Ministers Nikos Toskas and Yannis Mouzalas asking for the evacuation of squats used for migrant accommodation.
In the letter, that was also forwarded to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the mayor complains about the growing phenomenon of so-called solidarity groups occupying vacant public and private buildings and house migrants and refugees. The mayor asks for the migrants to be taken out and transferred to official migrant hospitality structures.
The mayor argues that even though many stranded migrants live in bad conditions in makeshift camps such as in the former Athens airport at Elliniko, this “does not legitimize anyone occupying arbitrarily public or private buildings to house those persons, including families with young children, in conditions as poor or worse.”
Kaminis mentions the example of the former high school in Neapolis that has been occupied since March and houses 300 refugees and migrants, and the same situation exists in many other buildings, particularly in the Exarchia neighborhood.
Area residents have repeatedly complained about poor living conditions in the occupied areas, and the health risks they pose both to guests and neighbors.
Kaminis says he expresses the opinion of the vast majority of Athens citizens and requests the transfer of refugees from the occupied buildings in organized hospitality structures, “in order to ensure the best possible living conditions for visitors and protect the basic rights of local residents.”
Closing his letter, the mayor states that the Municipality of Athens is committed to accommodating many of the migrants in proper facilities, while the state must assume its responsibilities and ensure the best possible living conditions in the refugee camps.