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Hundreds of Greek activists and refugees have held a protest rally in the capital Athens against a court ruling for evacuation of several squats that provide residence to refugees and migrants.
Around 700 protesters marched from the City Plaza, a major refugee squat in central Athens, to the Ministry of Migration on Friday.
They chanted slogans in support of refugees and carried signs that read "City Plaza is our home" and "Hands off squats.”
Earlier this month, a Greek court ruled for evacuation of three squats, including City Plaza.
The owner of the Hotel City Plaza, which was left empty in the center of capital for six years, had filed appeals for its evacuation after the business failed in 2010.
Refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on November 2, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
In April 2016, activists occupied the building, so over 1,500 refugees could live in the empty hotel rooms.
Activists argue that City Plaza and other squats offer better life conditions for the asylum seekers, compared with the low quality of life in the overcrowded refugee camps.
Greek activists have held several mass demonstrations in support of refugees and migrants, urging the closure of camps and full integration of asylum seekers into society.
More than 1.1 million refugees, most of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa, flocked to Europe in 2015. The flow subsided to quarter of a million last year after the EU reached a deal with Turkey in March 2016 to take back all people landing on Greek islands in return for financial aid to Ankara and the lifting of short-term visa requirements for Turks, which is yet to go into force.
EU member states agreed in September 2015 to share some 160,000 asylum seekers who had arrived in Greece and Italy. The scheme faced resistance from the very beginning, with states especially in Eastern Europe complaining that taking in refugees would expose them to serious security and economic risks.
The most welcoming countries to refugees like Germany also introduced their own restrictions on the arrivals.
The EU said in February it was for the first time considering penalties for states that break the bloc's rules on relocation.

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