Keen to clear the decks for its lucrative summer tourist season, Greece is trying to clear thousands of migrants out of its biggest port where they are sleeping rough by persuading them that they are better off in organized reception centers.
More than 50,000 migrants have been stranded in Greece because of multiple border closures across the Balkans to the north, sealing off a land corridor to wealthy northwestern Europe used by a million people before them fleeing conflict and deprivation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The port of Piraeus is the main gateway to Greece’s Aegean islands beloved of tourists – but also for an annual exodus of Greeks from the mainland to celebrate Orthodox Easter.
So Greek officials, anxious not to scare off the travelers’ trade so vital to the debt-ridden country’s cash-starved treasury, are at pains to stress to migrants camped out there that Piraeus is not a home.
To that end, they are circulating a pamphlet, in Piraeus and other areas of Greece with impromptu migrant camps, showing the beaming face of a child, a man using thumb and forefinger to show a loveheart and a boy munching a banana. It reads:
“The boards (borders) to other European states are now blocked from all directions and unfortunately there is no hope that they are going to open in the foreseeable future.”
The pamphlet, published by the Greek coastguard in Arabic, Farsi, English and Greek, is a gentle undertaking to coax migrants to head to organized reception centers.
“The Greek people will always be your friend,” it adds.
Well, the Greek people will probably be friendly until you force more austerity measures on them because you disrupted the positive cash flow. After that, it’s time for yet another episode of “What To Do With The Migrants?” on Eurohell Television.
What’s striking in this article are the lengths officials go to in order to sound a tone of appeasement, while some of the migrants are acting as if they have choices as guests of the Greek state. I’m all for treating people as humanely as possible, but invited guests who are there long past their welcome should sleep where they’re told and maintain some sense of gratitude.
Then again, it is certainly more difficult to plot, oh, terrorist activity under watchful eyes in an enclosed area.