Athens Games 2015: Housing refugees in old Olympic facilities

© Yannis Behrakis
The best way to avoid clashes between migrants and refugees is to separate the war refugees from the economic migrants – put them in separate places, says former Greek diplomat Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos.

RT: Fights broke out among refugees accommodated at a stadium in Paleo Faliro outside Athens. What is the reason of those fights?

Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos: I presume that because they are of different nationalities, each one has its own interest. For example, we are giving priority to the refugees from the war zones, basically Syria. We have also economic migrants that are coming into Greece for better living conditions. These two categories have different kind of interests, and most likely it is these conflicting interests that lead them to fight each other.

RT: What is Greek government doing about this situation?

LC: Well, anything goes there. The Greek authorities are trying to give them refuge so that they could be safe from the cold weather that is here. And they are not in a position to separate the migrant people from the refugees from the war zones. What happens among them is something that is difficult for us to find out and to explain.   

RT: What could be done to release tension and avoid further unrest?

LC: I think that the best way to avoid such crises is to separate the refugees from the war zones from the economic migrants – put them in separate places. Which is not being done by the government.

You must take into consideration that we have about 50,000 refugees at this moment in Greece. We are keeping them in various buildings that are at the disposal of the municipalities of Athens and of the regions. There is no more room. So this is the basic reason why we are putting them in the facilities of the 2004 Olympic Games.

The position of many Greeks is: “We take care of them.” And when they arrive in the islands they are being very well taken care of – not by the government, but by the people themselves. Then, when they reach Greece, they prefer to go to Skopje [the capital of Macedonia], from where they can go – or they that they can reach – Germany.

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