Thursday, 17 September 2009

What a surprise - 5000 homeless in Athens

Last month I wrote a short article about Greek authorities clearing illegal immigrants out of ruined buildings in Athens. I complained about the short-sightedness of such actions asking where are these people supposed to go. I was therefore nto astonished to open today's newspaper and read about the increase in the number of homeless in Athens this winter.
Official figures show that 5,000 people are homeless in the city. They even admit that the number is probably much higher - something they would be less eager to admit with unemployment figures but that is not a surprise either. 
Deputy Mayor Eleftherios Skiadas had to admit that the clean up operations in the summer had had its consequences. “The evacuation roughly doubled the number of people at our meal centers.” They simply could not cope. This is what I mean by short-sighted actions on the part of the authorities. Instead of taking a more pro-active stance and arranging for these homeless to find alternative accommodation, they were left on the street. Something, I fear symbolic of Greek politics, solve the immediate problems and worry about the consequences later. The social unrest kindled by such off-the-cuff decisions is exemplied by the following: 
"Over the last three months, Koumoundourou Square has turned into an open-air hotel for immigrants, homeless people and drug addicts,” said the Panathinaia residents’ group in a letter to Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis." Fabulous eh?

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