In April 2016, the City Plaza hotel in Athens, which had been vacant since the economic crisis, was occupied by left-wing and anarchist activists from the Solidarity Initiative for Economic and Political Refugees. The new residents were subsequently mainly refugees from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as activists and aid workers. The community living there organised their accommodation independently and communally: they cooked, looked after children, held language courses and practised a new form of living together. The already existing furniture and the functioning canteen kitchen made a quick and uncomplicated conversion possible. The City Plaza became a well-known meeting place for refugees, interested people and helpers beyond the city limits.
To create a space for safe and dignified housing for migrants in the centre of the city, a space of solidarity and cooperation between locals and migrants /
to function as a centre of struggle in which political and social demands by migrants and locals will interweave and complement each other.
Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza is considered a showcase project for self-managed refugee assistance. »At the core [...] was an attempt to combat insecurity and fear, to empower and encourage confidence and trust in the collective. Help to refugees was re-politicised – and became solidarity and common struggle. Self-organisation, shared responsibility and decision making were central, as was a constant reflection on the inequalities permeating relations within the project: localisation, class, gender, language, education, etc.«.
Over 2,500 migrants from 13 countries lived in the hotel during its 39 months of existence. Refugees and the associated solidarity group closed the squat on 10 July 2019, two days after the election victory of the right-wing party Nea Dimokratia and under pressure from the newly elected minister Michalis Chrisochoidis.
»However, the most important things cannot be counted. They have to do with human relationships, mutual respect and solidarity, emotions and experiences, optimism born out of common struggle.« (Source: Website of the project)
Economic and Political Refugee Solidarity Initiative