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Refugees advertise tent on Airbnb

24 June 20160 comments

In a satirical dig at the miserable conditions they find themselves in, a group of Syrian refugees has advertised the tent they are living in on Airbnb.

Airbnb picIn the advertisement, the Syrians say they have been living for three months in a tent in a refugee camp north of Athens and invite visitors to come and live with them, promising scorpions, dehydration and poor sanitation.

“This is a real opportunity to experience life as a Syrian refugee,” the advertisement says.

“While EU politicians talk about refugees, you can have an authentic refugee experience – tents, wood-fire cooking, 41 degree heat, marginal sanitary situation, friendly scorpions, broken promises, even dehydration.”

The ironic post promises that “long-term stays always receive a generous discount – please inquire!”

Prospective visitors are advised that they can access “free parking” as well as portable toilets, which are used by 600 refugees.

“If you are lucky you might get one of the two hot showers. There is a large vacant lot where the toilets are, which the children use as a playground. Please join in the games.”

“Schooling and medical help is available rarely but for a short-term stay you will be fine; just imagine if you had to stay here for the past four months,” the advert says.

The refugee camp, an hour’s drive north of the Greek capital, is described as “the most unique neighbourhood in Greece”.

The ad, written in good English was posted anonymously.  It has been since been removed from the Airbnb website.

In a statement, Airbnb said it had removed the listing because it was “not permitted under our terms of service”.

Airbnb said that it appreciated that the listing was an attempt to highlight “the heart-breaking refugee crisis” and said that it had raised “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for UNHCR in an attempt to deal with the situation.

It said that relief workers with organisations like the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps were entitled to book free accommodation in the areas they are working.

More than 800,000 refugees and migrants, many of them Syrians and Iraqis, arrived in Greece last year after crossing in small boats and dinghies from the coast of Turkey.

The majority of them reached northern Europe after trekking along the so-called Balkan Route from Greece into Macedonia and through Serbia and Hungary to Austria and Germany. But the route was closed in March, more than 50,000 refugees and migrants stranded inside Greece.

For months, around 11,000 camped rough near a railway line at Idomeni in northern Greece, hoping to cross the Macedonian border.

Heavy rain turned the makeshift camp into a swamp, with small children wading through giant puddles and women breast-feeding babies amid camp fires and piles of rubbish.

In recent weeks the refugees were moved to registered camps set up by the Greek military and civilian authorities.

Aid groups and the UNHCR have criticised the camps as being unhygienic, poorly-equipped and inappropriate for a long stay.

The EU came up with a plan to resettle 160,000 asylum seekers stuck in Greece and Italy but progress has been painfully slow and so far only 2,400 people have been relocated in other EU countries.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist