Third country nationals evacuated from old Athens airport to other refugee camps

Friday, 02 June 2017 17:58
UPD:18:05
SOOC/Nikos Libertas

The operation generated criticism on Friday morning as police blocked reporters and TV crews from getting near the facilities.

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Greek authorities on Friday completed the evacuation of nearly 400 foreign nationals who had been temporarily hosted at disused facilities at the one-time Athens airport, located at the coastal Helleniko district in southeast Athens.

The foreign nationals are identified - based on their statements and presentation of documents - as refugees fleeing Mideast war zones, but also as third country nationals that took advantage of the refugee crisis to illegally enter Greece from Turkey in a bid to emigrate to preferred west European destinations.

Most of the foreign nationals will be sent to a refugee camp near the small city of Thebes, due north of Athens, while some families will be hosted elsewhere.

The operation generated criticism on Friday morning as police blocked reporters and TV crews from getting near the facilities.

The entire Helleniko site, which hosts abandoned terminals, a runway, hangars and a smattering of outdoor sports venues left over from the 2004 Olympic Games, is awaiting transfer to an international consortium headed by Athens-based Lamda Development.

The Helleniko project, which appears ready to begin construction after overcoming political opposition and proverbial Greek "red tape", is billed as the biggest real estate redevelopment in southern Europe and as a landmark privatization for the recession-battered country.

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