Plans to evacuate and partially demolish a Roma encampment in the northern Athenian suburb of Halandri, erected nearly four decades ago on a site behind the present-day Nomismatokopio metro station, were called off on Tuesday amid protests from the camps residents and local authority representatives.
A few dozen residents of the Roma camp caused traffic chaos in the early hours of the day by blocking off both the southbound and northbound lanes of Mesogeion Avenue, a central artery linking downtown Athens with the capital's northern suburbs. They also burned tires and plastic dumpsters outside the entrance of the camp in order to prevent the demolition crew from entering.
The decision to postpone the demolition of 12 of some 65 residences came after a meeting between the chief of the Roma community residing in the encampment, and local and regional authority representatives.
The original plan foresaw the residents of the camp being relocated to a mountain plot in Megara in western Attica.
"There needs to be a discussion on a more viable solution," the deputy regional governor for northern Attica, Giorgos Karameros, was quoted by Naftemboriki daily as saying. "We can't send 75 families into exile. We can't send residents of Halandri to Mount Patera, 27 kilometers from the last house and at an altitude of 850 meters."