Borderland

Reporting from the frontlines of history in Greece

Date: July 12, 2016

The Sympathy of Greece

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Graffiti adorns the concrete walls of an overpass at the Port of Piraeus, under which hundreds of migrant families are living.

 

By Hayley Roth

It’s hot. A little boy runs across the sizzling asphalt to avoid burning his bare feet. He takes a bottle of water and pours it over his head and shoulders, shrieking with laughter.

Another boy, even younger, toddles forward. He can barely support himself on unsteady legs. His shirt reads “DUSSELDORF: meine leibe.” He isn’t German.

Further away, a girl of five or six drags a doll behind her as she runs toward a cluster of tents. Her dark, curly hair is tied back in a messy ponytail.

These children aren’t anomalies. An independent Greek support group, known as Refugees Welcome to Piraeus, says that 165 of the 835 refugees living beneath a roaring highway just off Gate E2 of the Port of Piraeus are under 11 years of age. For their parents, strips of asphalt in Athens are preferable to houses in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other homelands rocked by instability and violence.

 

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Art amid refuge

Ismail Noh's mural, painted in Ritsona. (Iris Samuels)

Ismail Noh’s mural, painted in Ritsona. (Iris Samuels)

By Iris Samuels | 7/11/16

Art scene: A term evoking the gallery-lined streets of lower Manhattan, or the resplendent museums of Paris.

Then there is Ritsona, a refugee camp an hour north of Athens. Worlds apart, its scene is vibrant, nonetheless.

Home to 600 migrants, mostly from Syria and Iraq, Ritsona at first seems a bustling summer camp. Children run barefoot while cicadas hum in surrounding pines.

 

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