Hundreds of migrants will be transferred from the makeshift camp at the old Athens Elliniko airport to other facilities in Greece. Despite demands by human rights organizations, no deadlines were set as of yet.

The Greek government has begun the long-awaited process of closing down the makeshift migrant camp at the site of Athens' old aiport at Elliniko, starting with migration ministry workers briefing the migrant population on Tuesday.

Kyriakos Mantouvalos, the migration ministry's press spokesperson, said that state workers had visited the site to officially inform the 1,200-plus migrant population at Elliniko about how they will be transferred to organized facilities in other parts of the country.

The state has said it plans to move the majority of migrants from Elliniko to a brand new facility recently inaugurated in the town of Thiva, but on Tuesday there were no immediate deadlines set.

Demands for fair communication

Amnesty International demanded on Tuesday that the Greek government ensure those displaced from Elliniko are provided with safe and adequate housing."Whilst no one will mourn the closure of these uninhabitable, unsafe camps, the failure to provide people living there with information about their imminent removal has only served to increase their fears and anxieties," said Monica Costa Riba, Amnesty International's Regional Campaigner. She added: "There has been no consultation with Ellinko residents who have been kept in the dark as to when and where they will be moved to.

The authorities must urgently guarantee that no one will be rendered homeless or placed at risk as a result of the closure. Safe and secure adequate alternative housing which takes account of the particular needs of women and girls must be made available,” Monica Costa Riba said.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have been vociferous in their criticism of the site on the southern coast of the Greek capital, labelling it unsuitable for long-term accommodation.

Amnesty International stated that the migrants living at the Elliniko site have been living in squalor in tents for over a year with insufficient number of toilets and showers, and limited privacy, with the situation leading to increased rates of depression and anxiety, as well as suicide attempts.

“Appalling living conditions”

The mainly Afghan refugees living at the camp - which until 2001 was the Athens airport - have been housing themselves in the crumbling flight lounges and abandoned sports facilities in the surrounding area which were built for the 2004 Olympics. Last month, Amnesty International had called on the government to close down the site immediately, lamenting the "appalling living conditions" and stating that "women and underage girls live in constant fear of sexual and verbal abuse."

The refugees and migrants were initially housed at Elliniko from late 2015 onwards as a temporary measure, as Greece's leftist government scrambled to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people of all ages landing on Greek shores via the Eastern Aegean islands to escape war and poverty.


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