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Afghan migrants camping in Athens park resettled

Published 16/08/2015

Migrants wait to be transferred from an Athens park to an organised camp (AP)
Migrants wait to be transferred from an Athens park to an organised camp (AP)

Greek authorities have started resettling migrants living in tents in a park in Athens.

Fire brigade buses moved the migrants, most from Afghanistan, to a settlement of 90 containers in the Athens district of Votanikos.

Each container can house six to eight people and has air conditioning, running water and a toilet.

The government said the place is not a detention centre and that everyone is free to come and go.

However, police estimated about a third of the park's almost 300 tent residents, wary of such promises, packed their belongings and left the park earlier. Another 30 have refused to move.

Police say a total of 171 were resettled on Sunday, but many more live in other public spaces in Athens.

More than 130,000 migrants have reached Greece so far in 2015, straining the country's resources.

"I am afraid that they are going to send us back to Afghanistan. I'm scared of being sent to a fenced place where I won't be able to go anywhere," said Zahra Mohseni, an Afghan migrant.

Others found the new settlement a welcome change from conditions in the park.

Arash Himati said: "It is so much better. The people who walk into their rooms are very pleased. There is a happy atmosphere, everything is beautiful and there are special places for little children to play or hang around, like small parks. There is enough room for about 700 people."

The settlement is far from other residences, but some feared that locals in Votanikos would object to the migrants, and the Greek media have played up the "locals protest" angle. About a dozen people turned up to protest and were kept at bay by police.

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