Patra Palace

In 2009, the Green Port of Patras was the home for approximately 3,000 migrants. Most of them were Afghans, although there were also significant numbers of Iranians and Uzbeks. From Patras, they tried to find a way to reach other European destinations by hiding in ships, containers and trucks parked in the port. The lucky ones managed to stay for no long time; others, though, were living in Patras for months and a few for several years.Many used to live in shacks made from cartons, plastic and wood found on the beach. Others found shelter by squatting abandoned buildings without water and electricity. The living conditions were inhumane and unhygienic.Later on, arrivals were staying outside the city centre to avoid police checks. Any illusions they might have had about being granted asylum in Greece soon vanished. The Greek Authorities were routinely rejecting asylum applications from those thus regularly rounding up groups for deportation to Turkey. Some managed to reach Italy by hiding inside trucks, or by tying themselves with straps under the lorries and trailers. The journey was treacherous, and scores of them died during the trip, either suffocating inside trailers or being crushed by trucks. Preferred destinations were Germany and the Scandinavian countries, although just a few managed to make their final destination due to the strict border control from Greece and Italy.In 2009, the migration crisis was mainly a bilateral problem between Greece and Turkey. Today, the European Union is pretending to deal with the most recent migration crisis by relying on an agreement that will be returning to Turkey even genuine asylum seekers (whenever Turkey is deemed a ‘Safe Third Country’ for each of them) and not only illegal migrants.