Migrants evacuated from Athens camp airport site

PHOTO CREDIT: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GETTY

TMP – 08/06/2017

Greek police forces have evacuated a makeshift migrant camp housed inside the abandoned building of a disused former airport south of Athens.

According to a report from Associated Press, a heavy police presence blocked off all access to the site as hundreds of migrants collected their belongings and began boarding buses to refugee camps elsewhere in the country. A police spokesperson said that no violence occurred during the evacuation process.

The site, which until 2001 functioned as the Athens airport, was used to shelter up to 3,000 migrants last year, most of them from Afghanistan. Most of the migrants were since moved to other camps but hundreds were still living in tents at the former airport complex.

Human rights groups have repeatedly said that the makeshift camp was unsuitable for long-term accommodation and called on the government to find alternative arrangements.

Over the past 10 days, the residents at the camp were asked to relocate to official camps outside Athens. According to officials about 90 percent of the migrants said they would relocate voluntarily, while the rest objected to being transferred.

Greek police has previously said that families from the makeshift camp would go to a camp outside the town of Thebes, about 70km northwest of Athens, while single people would be taken to Athens’ Police Directorate for Aliens for identity verification, before being moved to facilities outside of the capital.

More than 60,000 migrants are currently stranded in Greece, following an agreement last year between the EU and Turkey seeking to stop the flow of migrants to Europe and the closure of borders across Europe.