I do have to say, my students being from urban areas where crime is not uncommon, they’re used to being on their guard; Athens, a friend pointed out to me, is still far more safe than other European cities (and many American ones). The issue is whether rising crime in Athens might hurt Greece’s tourism industry, which currently accounts for about 15 percent of its economy — and what will happen to the many migrants seeking a better life if not in Greece, than in Europe. Earlier this week, the BBC reported 25 bodies from the engine room of a boat that landed on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. The men are believed to be from Somalia, Nigeria and Ghana; the boat also carried 271 other people. Riots recently broke out at migrant centers in the southern Italian port of Bari, outside of Rome and on Sicily.
Greece currently rejects 99 percent of asylum claims. In a 2010 report, UN special rapporteur Dr Manfred Novak said that Greece’s asylum system was described as “dysfunctional.” Police stations in Athens are currently used as detention centers for migrants. While the Greek government has “wanted to improve the situation it lacked the funds to do so” and still does, even more now.
In the wake of the horrific attacks two weeks ago in Norway, many politicians in Europe have defended right-wing terrorist Andrew Behring Breivik, saying that he was “defending Western civilization“and revealing the dangers of “wide-scale immigration.” But as unrest and economic crises continues around the world, people will still seek a better life in countries other than their own: The violence in Norway is a tragic reminder of the need for tolerance, integration and acceptance of diversity, not hate that breeds fear and violence.
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Photo of migrant strawberry pickers in Ilia by noborder network
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