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"Welcome Islands": 2 Solidarity Flats for Refugees in Transit in Athens

Athen, Greece

"Welcome Islands": 2 Solidarity Flats for Refugees in Transit in Athens

Athen, Greece

The Welcome Islands are two solidarity flats for those in transit in Athens/Greece. We wanted to create spaces of rest and protection for refugees, spaces that would turn into homes and open up opportunities for encounter.

S. Stroux from Wohnschiffprojekt Altona e.V. | 
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About this project

As part of our grassroots project Infomobile of welcome to europe, we opened our first solidarity flat in September 2011 in Athens for homeless refugees. In 2014, we opened the second flat. Since then, the issue of accommodation for refugees has changed as dramatically as the whole situation for refugees in this country. 

We called these two safe spaces of solidarity ‘Islands of Welcome’ because we wanted to create spaces through the support of participants and friends that would offer rest and protection, and become a home with opportunities for encounters. 
2011: The Islands of Welcome were first a home for victims of torture, and people with mental health issues, who had lived homeless for years.
2012/2013: In winter 2012/2013, refugees moved in, who had previously been in detention for months, following the drastic raids by the police throughout Greece.
2014/2015: During this time, the number of homeless women, mothers, and entire families increased, which meant that the Islands of Welcome became increasingly colourful, turbulent, and full of children. 
2016/2017/2018: With the closure of the Balkan corridor, the beginning of the infamous EU-Turkey deal, and the creation of several hotspots and other camps with inhumane living conditions, the need for genuine places of welcome increased once more. 
2019: The migration ministry decided to kick out beneficiaries of international protection from flats and camps. Today, those who do not have access to state services stay in the two Islands of Welcome. They urgently needed a home and a safe space. Mothers and kids with refugee status, as well as homeless newcomers; people who had been deported from other EU countries; individual refugees who have supported this project for a long time and enabled it to continue.
While dramatic images from the EU hotspots on the Aegean islands reach the media daily, also the situation in mainland Greece is horrible. The dozens of temporary camps that were set up about 3 years ago as a response to a ‘crisis’ continue to be nothing more than an emergency solution which prohibits integrationist efforts. Protests against the inhumane conditions in the camps emerge again and again. 
Our goal is that the flats can be supported through regular standing orders of 10 Euros per month. Standing orders can be made via the account of the ‘Wohnschiffprojekts’: 

Wohnschiffprojekt Altona e.V.
Subject: Islands of Welcome 
IBAN: DE06200505501257122737
Updated at 18. March 2020