As police continued on Tuesday with a crackdown on undocumented immigrants in central Athens, residents and shopkeepers of neighborhoods with burgeoning migrant populations such as Victoria Square, Omonia Square and the National Archaeological Museum told Kathimerini that the sweeps had already made a difference. One resident said the migrants who used to gather in Pedion tou Areos Park were gone. “Police vans come and take them away every morning,” said a street kiosk employee. Another resident walking her dog reported seeing “a major difference in recent days. I hope they continue with the raids and illegal immigrants leave the area so we can walk in the park without fear,” she said. Eleni Papadopoulou, of the Victoria Square residents’ group, was cautiously upbeat. “We’ve heard a lot of promises so we’re not easily convinced but we’re optimistic,” she said.
Shopkeepers in the city center also reported seeing an improvement but called for a parallel crackdown on the rackets that exploit immigrants. The head of the Athens Traders’ Association, Panagis Karellas, said he hoped the police would continue the campaign “boldly and decisively” and -- in an apparent dig at leftist organizations and parties -- called on authorities to ignore “those seeking political or other gains through ‘humanitarian interventions and complaints,’ projecting their sensitivity at the cost of others, thus demeaning the sense of security, dignity and hopes of the heavily-taxed Greek citizen.”
Police on Tuesday raided 10 illegal brothels in central Athens, arresting 21 people, mostly migrants. Eleven women face deportation. Officers also rounded up 54 suspected prostitutes. Five of the women, four of whom are Greek, tested positive for HIV and face charges.