What It's Like to Spend New Year's as a Refugee in a Greek Anarchist Shelter

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Ioana Moldovan
January 9, 2016
Huffington Post

ATHENS, Greece -- The clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, and the room on the ground floor of this former tax administration building is filled with people chatting and laughing. Persian dance music on YouTube blasts from the speakers of the laptop sitting on a table, surrounded by cookies and glasses.

Mehdi's* eyes are stuck on his mobile phone. He stands out in the crowd, hardly a smile on his face. He waits for news from his family. He hasn't spoken to them in four days.

As Balkan border crossings closed for refugees not coming from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, many others found themselves stuck in Greece. They are the unwanted who got to spend the new year in Athens, and some found refuge in this building.

Mehdi is from Tehran. Back home he faces an eight-month jail time sentence for installing satellite dishes.

"I had two jobs. One was selling rice in the grand bazaar, the other one is illegal only in my country," Mehdi says.

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