ATHENS, Greece—The last dog days of summer are usually quiet in Athens. Most people leave for their summer holiday, scattering to beaches looking out over azure waters or mountains filled with wildflowers. Only a few dazed tourists remain behind to wander the city.
But in the central Athens neighborhood of Exarchia last August, the mood was somber and determined as protesters marched through the streets. “You can’t evict a movement!” read one banner, clearly aimed at the right-wing New Democracy government, elected the previous month, and its hard-line policy on migration.
Exarchia has long been associated with left-leaning political activism, and in recent years it has become home to a network of solidarity organizations dedicated to providing assistance and safe haven to refugees. According to data from the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, roughly 96,500 migrants and asylum-seekers are currently in Greece. Most of them are in camps that were hastily built on various Greek islands and the mainland at the height of the European refugee crisis in 2015, living under horrendous conditions that include overcrowding and violence.