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POLICE officers raided two refugee squats in central Athens in the early hours of this morning, evicting over 250 people, including roughly 70 children, from their homes in the city centre.
The central neighbourhood of Exarcheia has long been home to the city’s undocumented migrant population who have lived there with the support of anarchist activists for years.
Video footage after the raid showed police bundling the migrants onto buses where they will reportedly be sent to migrant camps out of the city.
The raids on the migrant community are part of new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s right-wing government’s drive to appear tough on drug-dealers, petty criminals and irregular migrants.
Mr Mitsotakis recently said of the area: “We want to turn Exarcheia into what it once was: a neighbourhood with its own particular character instead of a den of lawlessness, vandalism and drug trade.”
The mass evictions in the capital come as migrant arrivals from across the Aegean have surged from 177 boat arrivals in July to 233 last month, according to statistical analysis by the independent Norwegian NGO Aegean Boat Report.
Earlier this month Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said some 24,000 migrants are “trapped on the Greek islands in horrendous conditions while being deliberately neglected by Greek and European authorities.”
MSF said: “The harmful crisis, which is undermining the well-being of thousands of vulnerable people, is the result of a faulty reception system, a lack of protection mechanisms and insufficient provision of services.
“The humanitarian and medical response on the Greek islands is largely being filled by volunteer organisations, which are replacing the responsibilities of the state.”
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