“We request political asylum,” reads a banner of a group of desperate Afghans in Athens. The men, women and children have been camping in front of Athens university for a month and a half. They have not been moved on, but say the Greek government is ignoring their needs.
Several are on a hunger strike. When some Iranians stitched their lips together last autumn, Athens finally processed their applications.
An unofficial spokesman said: “We are a hundred people protesting here, since December 29. Because of the indifference of the Greek government and other organisations, six of our people decided to sew their mouths and start the hunger strike.”
EU resources are going into reinforcing Greece’s land border with Turkey, which for many illegal immigrants is the finishing line to enter Europe. But the bloc’s rules say the first country of entry must handle applications, and, while waiting, the Afghans – children too, are vulnerable to xenophobic violence.