“Tucked away down a side street in the Greek capital, the previously deserted hotel was occupied by left-wing Greek activists and turned into a squat for nearly 400 refugees and migrants – half of them children – in late April.
Sitting in the hotel’s cafe, Lina Theodorou, a 27-year-old Athens-based lawyer and member of the Solidarity Initiative for Political and Economic Refugees, explains that the activist group was inspired to take action shortly after neighbouring Macedonia sealed its borders in late March.
The closure was in response to the agreement between the European Union and Turkey to halt the flow of refugees and migrants seeking to reach Western Europe by crossing through Greece, the Balkans and central Europe.
The hotel is now home to Syrian and Afghan refugees and, to a lesser extent, families who fled Iraq, the occupied Palestinian territories and several countries across Africa. The squat is administered by the refugees themselves, as well as between 30 and 40 solidarity activists who volunteer informally on a daily basis.”