The City Plaza Hotel, Athens, which houses migrants, was the sight of another attack by right-wing extremists in 2016 | Credit: InfoMigrants
The City Plaza Hotel, Athens, which houses migrants, was the sight of another attack by right-wing extremists in 2016 | Credit: InfoMigrants

Hussein landed on the Greek island of Leros with his wife and two children in January. After several weeks in a camp, the Palestinian family from Syria was relocated to the mainland. The International Organization for Migration settled them in a hotel in Vilia, a small town near Athens, with about 20 other families. A few hours after their arrival on March 15, the hotel was attacked by local residents. Hussein gave his testimony to InfoMigrants.

"We arrived at the hotel at around 11 a.m. A few hours later, we heard cries coming from outside. There were about 90 people outside shouting words in Greek. I don’t speak that language so I didn’t understand what they were saying, but they seemed angry.

A dozen of them broke the windows at the bottom of the building, then threw Molotov cocktails and glass bottles into the building. One of the Molotov cocktails even landed on the balcony of a room on one of the upper floors.

The attackers then entered the hotel.

I was in my room - on the first floor - with my wife and two children, aged four and five. I was completely panicked, I did not dare leave the room.

I heard a loud noise, so I opened my door slightly. The protesters were smashing my neighbor's door with a fire extinguisher they found in the hallway. Then they threw it on him and kicked his children.

When they noticed that I had opened my door, they came to me and also threw the fire extinguisher at my legs before leaving the room. My children were behind me, I was very scared.

The attack lasted about two hours, it was very long! Everyone was shouting, women and children were crying. There was a police car parked at the bottom of the building but they took a long time to react. They finally intervened with the managers of the hotel to put an end to the attack. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, only minor injuries.

Since that episode, my son has had trouble sleeping at night. When he finally gets to sleep, his sleep is very restless.

We no longer dare to leave the building, we are afraid of being targeted again. This aggression took place on the same day as the attack in New Zealand. We are afraid that this will happen to us here too. We feel the hostility of the people on a daily basis. The other day, the staff of a supermarket asked me to leave the store. But I was not doing anything wrong, I had just done some shopping.

We do not feel safe here. Now four people are on duty every night to prevent people from entering the building and attacking us again." 

••••  Read more about the incident here: Greece: Asylum seekers afraid to leave hotel after being attacked by locals


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