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

Athen, Greece

The Welcome Islands are two solidarity flats for those in Athens/Greece who have no access to state shelter. We want to create spaces of rest and protection for refugees, spaces that turn into homes, opportunities for encounter and integration.

S. Stroux from Wohnschiffprojekt Altona e.V.
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As part of our grassroots project Infomobile, we opened a 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 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 police raids 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 shelter 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 asylum seekers who arrived newly from the landborder; people who had been deported from other EU countries.
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 only little more than an emergency solution which prohibits integrationist efforts. 
Our goal is that the people can be supported for housing 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