Refugee crisis

Greece's Huddled Masses

Greece refugees Nikos Pilos for Handelsblatt
Refugees have been turning up at the former airport which is now the Helliniko refugee camp in the outskirts of Athens, Greece.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Europe sealed its southern borders without developing a long-term plan for the refugees now stranded in Greece.

  • Facts


    • Nearly 55,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece.
    • Amnesty International has warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” if authorities don’t address the “appalling conditions” in the camps soon.
    • In Ellinikon Airport, there are 40 toilets for more than 4,000 people, and aid organizations report many of the 1,000 children are malnourished.
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Packed together in tight rows, hundreds of colorful tents line the West Terminal of Ellinikon Airport in Athens. The facility, decommissioned  15 years  ago, is now being used to house refugees. More than 4,100 people meanwhile call the West Terminal and its annexes home.

A visit to the refugee center finds some migrants dozing in the colorful tents and others stretched out on the concrete floor on blankets.

Merwe, 19, from Afghanistan, is in front of a tent with her mother. Her cousin is camped out next to them with his two daughters. “We’ve been here for two months now,” Merwe said.

Her family paid smugglers $10,000 to take them through Iran, Turkey and then by boat to a Greek island whose name Merwe has forgotten.

“We lived for two weeks on the island in a guest house until we used up the last of our money,” she said, noting that Ellinikon has become her family’s end station.

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