George Stefanopoulos Coordinator of the GFRs Self-Advocacy Team
A statement regarding the homeless people at a difficult momentum
Once again, we find ourselves in the sad position to witness people living on the streets, with no hope and without the necessary means to continue with their lives normally. No jobs, no cash, no safe and permanent shelter. The evacuation of the squat on Themistokleous Street in the center of Athens and the subsequent abandonment of its people on the street confirms once again the lack of a solid accommodation policy as well as a unified strategic framework for integration.
The Greek Forum of Refugees along with the refugee and migrant communities receive calls from homeless people on a daily basis, recording their perpetual problems. In addition, we receive regular reports of evictions of refugees and migrants in both formal and informal accommodation shelters, a fact that is bound to skyrocket the number of homeless people. Unfortunately, this whole process is carried out without a structured integration plan to support it, by providing access to the labor market and facilitate all the necessary steps in an essential process.
It is clear that the squats are neither the space for integration nor can they provide an environment in which a person deserves to live. This is not a choice of the people themselves, but more of a necessity, especially when a plethora of serious problems in the urban fabric exist. We must finally tackle the accommodation issue at its root, as it is an issue that concerns all of us, especially in a period of a health crisis.
Through our campaign for the support of the most vulnerable elements of the population, the last couple of months, we have once again been confronted with the harsh reality: homeless people or people living in overcrowded small apartments and poor living conditions. This reality is not in line with a European welfare state, while at the same time it is an insult on human rights law.
Immediate solutions and a wider cooperation under the lead of the Greek State are required. So that we’ll never have to witness mothers with children in their arms or desperate and impoverished people struggling to survive out on the streets again. So that no child stays out of school, having its right on education denied.
We must all agree on this.
The Greek Forum of Refugees wishes to contribute, in essence, to the solution of the aforementioned issues and calls on both the institutions of the State and the civil society organizations to sit at the same table and agree unanimously on an action plan.