‘A yard turned to a hotspot’

In September 2019 numerous websites announced that  ‘the Thessaloniki Railway Station train yard has turned into a hotspot. The place was full of garbage and the hygiene is terrible’. The fact is that refugees and migrants had found shelter by occupying the abandoned trains –many of them were sleeping cars- that had been parked in the yard more than ten years ago and hadn’t moved ever since. A second fact is that indeed many plastic items such as bottles and food packages had been covering the stones between the wagons and the train tracks. Nevertheless beside those facts underlays another one. It is the informal admittance from the Press that the hot spots are really inhuman places where fundamental rights and any quality of life are absent, neglected dirty places that lack any infrastructure, safety and hygiene. So, this is the norm and again, this is regarded like a fact and like there is nothing we can do to turn them to better places. Paradoxically enough, they also demand the hot spots’ evictions as for example locals ask for Moria. However they ask so primarily not for the actual sensible reasons of the inhuman living conditions but for the locals’ own advantages. Accordingly, the abandoned train inhabitants -suchlike the hot spot inhabitants- are often presented as dangerous and threatening.  

Graffiti artists who were frequently visiting the same place in order to paint those and other trains testified diverse narrations. They became friends with the migrants and exchanged stories from their personal lives. They state that the squatters were not at all harmful to them. Pictures from their encounters show that their look was definitely well cared and clean. According to the artists, the inhabitants had even organised a barber shop in one of the trains’ coupes. 

Finally the train squatters were evicted and the wagons were moved seventy kilometers away after their long stay in the main station train yard.  Now new improved fences are replacing the older ones around the yard to prevent both migrants and graffiti artists to access any other parked trains.

Orestis Pangalos
December 2019