Athens, Greece – Pedion tou Areos, one of the largest public parks in Athens, has become a makeshift campground for refugees. Nearly 450 Afghan refugees, most of them women and children, are sheltering in the park, having set up tents among the lush green bushes and thick-trunked palms.
The families have paid about $1,000 – $3,000 per person for a seat on a dilapidated boat travelling from Turkey to the Greek Islands across the Aegean Sea in pursuit of a better life.
Most of the refugees who arrive in Greece want to continue their journey north, to Sweden, the United Kingdom or Germany, where they have relatives or hope to find better opportunities.
Numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and many Athenians have come forward to help provide aid for the refugees in the park, which includes basic commodities such as food, water, clothing, and medicine.
The Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention has set up mobile units manned by doctors, healthcare workers and psychologists to ensure the refugees have access to healthcare facilities while living in the park.
The municipality of Athens will help accommodate the refugees in the park until there is a more appropriate place to host them. Preparations are under way in Elaionas, an area west of Athens where the authorities plan to relocate and house the refugees, according to official statements.