posted at 07:50
Author Name: Hélène Colliopoulou
Decaying complex shelters generations of migrants in Athens
Dubbed the Ta Prosfygika, meaning "The Refugees", the once stately complex was erected on what is now plum real estate in downtown Athens to house some of the hundreds of thousands of Greeks chased from Turkey between the two world wars. Under the international 1923 Lausanne Treaty closing one of the last chapters of the Great War, Greece and Turkey exchanged each other's migrant populations - 385,000 Turks living in Greece and 1.3 million Greek settlers in Turkey. Some of their descendants still live in the decaying complex, others around the pot are recently-arrived refugees eking out a living in economically-crippled Greece. Lucas, a bank employee, works as a volunteer every Sunday, helping to cook for about 100 people here, immigrants as well as homeless Greeks. "The Greeks help the foreign children to learn the language, they throw parties, show movies. It's like a family." The complex stretches for eight blocks along a central artery of the Greek capital, its crumbling facades an eyesore near the Supreme Court, police headquarters, and major hospitals. "Living conditions are abysmal in these derelict buildings that offer very little sanitation," said one of the private owners, who asked to remain anonymous. "I'm not a racist, I understand that these people have to live somewhere, but the authorities need to force them out because the complex is worth a lot of money," he added.

Posts Archive