More than 1,500 men, women and children have been put up in portable housing not far from the steady stream of tourists who fill Greece’s bustling capital, Athens. Certain displaced people — among them, single mothers, minors and people with disabilities or severe health issues — are being granted “special protection” to reside at the camp in the Elaionas neighborhood before they attempt to continue their journeys to elsewhere in the European Union, where they often face further hardship.
Though there are some resources available to refugees, Greece faces international criticism for the vastly overcrowded camps on its islands, where many displaced people arrive after treacherous sea crossings that have left hundreds of others dead. In 2016, camps started opening on the mainland, mainly in the north, where residents are made vulnerable to xenophobic violence.
But how many displaced people should be kept in the camp — if, indeed, any person should be at all — is a huge issue. Turkey won’t allow refugees whose asylum requests have been rejected to return once they have left the islands for the Greek mainland. Displaced people deemed to be in need of “special protection,” such as minors, are allowed to continue their journeys even if their requests have not yet been processed.