UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, strongly condemns an arson attack on the Afghan Migrant and Refugee Community centre in central Athens and calls for continuing protection, support and empathy for the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants in Greece.
Yesterday’s mindless attack on the fifth floor premises of the community centre in the crowded Omonia area of the capital caused some significant material damage, but fortunately there were no injuries. The centre had been full of people, including children, not long before.
An extremist group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the racist attack, which came a day after the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“We are very concerned about this brazen attack which targeted vulnerable people in premises located in a busy area of the city. We urge that steps be taken to ensure the protection of refugees and migrants, and those who help them, against racist attacks,” said UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc.
The centre had been attacked before in 2011. With this new incident, UNHCR is concerned about similar attacks and a discernible rise in anti-immigration sentiment towards refugees and migrants. But the organization remains heartened by the solidarity and support by the vast majority of Greek society for refugees and asylum seekers.