There are currently 43 refugee families living in tents pitched in the Pedion tou Areos park in central Athens, the organisation Greek Forum of Refugees said on Friday.
Releasing the figures found during a count carried out on Wednesday and Thursday, the group reported that 202 people in total were living in the park, including 103 children, 62 men and 37 women.
The immigrants live in an unofficial camp in the rundown park, as Greek authorities have failed to formulate a coherent policy on how to handle a massive wave of undocumented immigration. Non-government charities try to help, providing food and clothing. Nearly 50,000 people have illegally entered the country this year, mostly Syrian refugees who risk the sea crossing from Turkey in dangerous, overcrowded boats. From Greece, most try to continue north through the Balkans to Germany and other more affluent European countries.
Millions of euros were spent revamping the Pedion tou Areos in 2010. The park was then handed over to the regional authority amid great fanfare, and then it was completely abandoned to its fate.
The rooftops of the handful of maintenance and storage buildings have been taken over by the park’s new residents – a community of homeless people who need real help rather than the state’s derogatory tolerance.
Kathimerini in a recent report highlights the presence of a number of prostitutes, drug addicts and dealers who in the last two years were added to the park’s new residents, pushed there by police raids to clear the nearby Tositsa Street.