Refugee Move Will Cost 1M Euros

A boy looks on as others sleep outside tents at a park where migrants are temporarily camping in Athens, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. The European Union appealed Friday to its member countries to live up to pledges to provide planes and other assets so that its border agency can cope with a migrant influx into Greece and Hungary. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS – It will cost cash-strapped Greece some one million euros ($1.1 million) to erect housing for illegal immigrants living in a central park.

Some 500 refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, are camping out in Pedion tou Areos park and surviviving on handouts from strangers and non-governmental organizations as the government admitted it has done almost nothing to help them so far.

Under pressure from human rights groups, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party, in the midst of negotiating a new bailout with international lenders, will move the immigrants into prefabricated housing in a vacant lot that’s being transformed in Elaionas, near central Athens, Kathimerini said.

The land has been provided by the City of Athens and the prefabricated homes by the Attica Regional Authority and Labor Ministry, while the Public Power Corporation is covering the cost of connecting the camp to the national grid and the Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP) is footing the bill for laying pipes and supplying water.

“What is happening here is experimental,” Anthi Karangeli, an adviser to Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou told the paper.

Karangeli added that Greece only had facilities to host 4,500 migrants and refugees but nearly 1,000 more a day are arriving in Greece, mostly from the Middle East but also from Africa. The new camp can hold only 600.