(Athens, Greece) – Over the past several months, refugees from countries like Syria and Afghanistan have fled their war-torn countries in search of a better life. Piraeus, which is located just six miles south of Athens, is one of these places. Currently, the port is home to a refugee camp that houses roughly 5000 refugees, many of whom would like to stay there until they can find a way to move on to other parts of Europe. However, this port is also a major hub to the rest of Greece, so the government is feeling pressured to move the refugees away from the port to get ready for both Greek Orthodox Easter and tourist season, both of which begin on May 1.
Although many families feel as if they’d rather stay than move, aid workers believe that letting them stay will leave to unsafe conditions. Simply put, Piraeus is ill-equipped to deal with large numbers of refugees because the facilities simply aren’t there. The government feels as if the quality of life for these refugees will improve if they move elsewhere. The families, however, fear that if they move, they will be stuck for much longer in the refugee camps than they intend. Still, the Greek government is feeling the pressure to move the refugees in time for tourist season. Lefteris Papayiannakis, the deputy mayor who is in charge of the refugees in Athens and Piraeus, has said on multiple occasions that the Greek government wasn’t quite ready to manage the situation by the time the refugees had shown up.
Every year, tourists flock to Greece to enjoy the history, culture, beaches, and sun. Many of these tourists end up passing through Piraeus, which is Greece’s main hub to the Greek islands, many of which aren’t accessible any other way than by boat. Tourism is the biggest industry in Greece, and the government wants to show the world that the influx of refugees won’t impact their vacations. In order to do this, however, they are feeling the pressure to move the refugees from Piraeus to other places throughout Greece. Moving the refugees is also designed to boost their quality of life. Currently, the camp is plagued with issues such as lack of personnel, not enough space, no air conditioning, and unsanitary and more are chief concerns.