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Greece: Migrant Dies Amid Inhumane Conditions in Eleonas Refugee Camp

Athens, Greece – In late August, Pakistani migrant Wares Ali, 52, died from heart failure inside Eleonas Refugee Camp as medical personnel have left hundreds without healthcare as part of the authorities’ strategy of displacement. Ali had been in the camp on the outskirts of Athens, Greece, for six and a half years and was never given legal documents. He leaves behind a wife and three children, all without papers.

Eleonas Camp has been the site of constant protest this year as refugees and community members have been resisting a planned resettlement of the residents to camps outside Athens. Despite worsening conditions in Eleonas, with lack of healthcare, sanitation, and food, residents don’t want to be placed into restrictive closed camps further away from Athens, where many of them currently have jobs.

This follow up to our first report and video on Eleonas Camp features updates on the direct actions that have stalled evacuation plans, the death of Wares Ali, and the wider ongoing migrant displacement strategy of the Greek government.


Movement Spawns from Greek Government Plans to Close Eleonas Refugee Camp

Athens, Greece – Following the final decision of the Athens City Council on July 4 to proceed with the evacuation of the Eleonas refugee camp, communities of migrant residents are left in a very difficult position. The Municipality of Athens and the Ministry of Immigration are pushing for the displacement of the migrant population away from Athens. This push comes amidst large developer projects to build commercial sites and a football stadium in the area, which can currently be described as a post-industrial zone.

Formed in August 2015, Eleonas camp was the first state-built refugee living center on mainland Greece (others were previously built on the islands). Nearly 1,500 residents call the camp home for now, including migrant women with babies, students and asylum seekers with serious health problems (cardiological, neurological, psychological, etc.).

Many of the residents have settled in the camp and created a surrounding social and professional life for themselves in Athens for years. The Greek state continues its implementation of plans to transfer these residents to newly constructed, currently closed detention centers far from urban centers, without any thought for open housing structures for local migrants in the cities.

During the Summer of 2022, Unicorn Riot has been documenting actions from supporters and camp residents calling for the government to keep Eleonas camp open. We collated coverage from several protests and spoke with camp residents Niclette and Benjamin, both originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.