ATHENS — With Greece moving out of accommodations refugees given asylum to make way for others seeking it, Turkey's pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah said they are being dumped on the streets of Athens.
Many were expelled from the notorious Moria detention camp on the island of Lesbos, the report said of a facility holding more than 18,000 in a space designed for only one-third that many.
With European Union funding ending for some programs, the report said, “They were abandoned by the Greek authorities,” without mentioning Turkey has repeatedly violated an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU by letting human traffickers keep sending more to five Greek islands near Turkey's coast.
The expelled, the report said, also includes Afghan asylum-seekers looking for shelter at Victoria Square, a public park in the capital, comprised of 66 people, including four pregnant women and children.
"They told us we have to leave Moria Camp. They said: 'Go to Athens, finish your paperwork and go wherever you want after that,'" said Alireza, who came to Athens and with no other identification revealed.
"I don't get that. We are refugees. They officially left us here. Imagine that you came to Afghanistan and did not speak the language. And nobody guides you. How would you feel?" said another refugee who spent the night in the street who wasn't named.
Petros Konstantinou, head of the United Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (KEERFA), told the paper that the city didn't help them.
"This is the result of the government's racist policy that leaves 11,000 refugees homeless without providing the conditions for their integration into society," he said.
UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, had already warned that the moving of thousands of refugees, some of them from Greek islands to the mainland, could leave many homeless
The UNHCR said that the government-arranged exit of at least 9,000 recognized refugees from Greece's reception system is a "premature" move before they have effective access to employment and social welfare schemes.
"Forcing people to leave their accommodation without a safety net and measures to ensure their self-reliance may push many into poverty and homelessness," warned UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a briefing of the United Nations in Geneva.
A new law adopted in March 2020 reduces the grace period for recognized refugees from six months to 30 days to transition from organized accommodation and essential support to independent living.
The UNHCR urged Greece to increase the national reception capacity at sites, apartments, hotels and cash for shelter.
Most of the asylum-seekers, about 32% of them are Afghans, another 26% are Syrians, and Iraqis are represented by 12%. The nationals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo make up 5% and Pakistan 4%, the paper also said.