Borderland

Reporting from the frontlines of history in Greece

Tag: #refugees

Athens at First, Second and Third Glance

refugeejumping_piraeus

A refugee at Skaramagas camp dives into the food-littered industrial waters near Piraeus.

By Hayley Roth

It has been seven days in Athens, and the experience is somewhat like eating an exotic fruit for the first time. Its surface beauty is striking but bite into it to discover the real content. Our task, as six student journalists from Princeton, New Jersey, is to get to the core of the city in five weeks.

On day one, I was picked up from the airport by the soft-spoken middle-aged Mr. Panayiotis, and we walked together into the blistering Athenian heat. It took me about 30 seconds to realize that he was soft-spoken because he could understand only a smattering of English words, and didn’t like trying. But he loaded me and my suitcase into the little taxi and we zoomed inland in silence on a dusty, near-empty highway with a stunning overlook of the white city below.

whitecityoutlook The city of Athens.

It was midday, and the streets were empty. The heat had driven people into apartments and cafes and even beyond the city limits to the beaches and islands. The buildings, stuccoed and whitewashed, were maddeningly reflective. The sun felt different here– not just hotter, but bigger. Closer. Brighter. The cars were reflective, too. Most are gray, white, or yellow, managing to invoke the colors of the sky and the asphalt together. “Dingy” and “garish” are adjectives that came to mind. But lift your eyes and there is the glistening Acropolis.

 

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First Impressions: Port of Piraeus

 

Tents at Athens' Port of Piraeus

Tents at Athens’ Port of Piraeus

By Amanda Blanco

Section E2 of the industrial Port of Piraeus was never meant to be called home. But since closure of Greece’s borders, that is exactly what it has become for roughly 1,000 refugees.  Their tents cluster under a highway overpass, squeezing together to escape the blistering sun.

“The image speaks for itself,” says Negia Milian, a volunteer camp director from a Piraeus-based group supporting the refugees. Milian, a former  Cuban refugee, emphasizes that her group is not a so-called Non-Governmental Organization, or NGO. However, there are several NGOs working at Piraeus, including the Red Cross and Save the Children.

 

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