A group of migrants and refugees stranded for months in Athens block the visit of a Greek minister. Dozens of stranded refugees, among them many children, have held a massive protest rally over their poor living conditions in the Greek capital, Athens. The angry refugee protesters on Monday rallied outside the gate of a former Athens airport terminal, where they have been stranded for months. The demonstrators blocked Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas from entering the refugee camp at the disused Hellenikon airport. One refugee handed Mouzalas a crying child as he reached the chained gate. They also held placards and chanted slogans such as “Go, Go!” and “Liar!” The minister expressed sympathy with the refugees.
“I completely understand their pain and hardship. We are trying to ease it as much as we can,” Mouzalas said. Some 1,600 people, mostly Afghans, are camped in these facilities, which consist of venues used in the 2004 Olympic Games and the former Athens airport. Nearly 600 refugees live at the former arrivals’ terminal where the latest protest took place. The government wants to clear out the entire compound after Greece agreed to lease it to private investors under its bailout program. The protest took place a day after local media reported that a group of refugees were going on hunger strike at the camp.
Refugees of the Syrian Civil War or Syrian refugees are citizens and permanent residents of Syrian Arab Republic, who have fled from their country since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and have sought asylum in other countries. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria. In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees. Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees. Saudi Arabia claims to have received nearly 2.5 million Syrian citizens as of 2016, but without registering them as refugees. Assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria, and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, is planning largely through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2016, pledges have been made to the UNHCR, by various nations, to permanently resettle 170,000 registered refugees.