Photo by Cecilia Andersin 

Letter from a city 

To all countries on Earth,

I am Athens, the mother of democracy and freedom of speech. The cradle of culture, science and knowledge. Ideas that were created here thousands of years ago, still remain today and have spread around the world. Everyone has always been able to express their opinion here by standing on the speaker’s platform in the Agora, and it’s my turn now.

I have functioned as a crossroads during the course of history, where different cultures and values have met. The different continents around me have equally exchanged ideas and the flow of people has been in balance for thousands of years. Now the balance has been disturbed. Since 2015, more than a million refugees have sought protection in me and my country. That’s where the cooperation ends. While people are pouring in from the east, Europe is standing with crossed arms and refusing to let them in.

The refugee crisis is neither a political nor an economical issue. It is a humanitarian crisis that requires humanitarian aid. Within my city people have got together and are doing everything in their power to help the ones in need. When the government isn’t willing to use resources, rationalize processes and help adequately, the organisations and volunteers save the situation. They provide the refugees with necessities, education and support. Only about a third of the refugee children in Greece go to school. I actually do understand this, however. To become educated in a foreign language in a foreign country is all but easy. That’s where integration centres come into play.

Through an adequate integration process, the lost can find their place and peace. Thanks to the united powers of Athenians the border between us and them has been diminished. Even though there are different opinions on the political spectrum, the flow of refugees has become so large that we do not have a choice. We cannot turn our back on these people in the same way as you do in other countries. We cannot say no because we do not have enough resources. We have to help. And so do you.

Athens has been a role model to other countries during the course of history. Copies of the Parthenon can be seen all over the world and democracy is the most established form of government. Still, many of you look the other way now and pretend it isn’t your problem. Let me be a role model again. Follow the example set by the Athenians as you did thousands of years ago and give these people a chance.​

Photo by Cecilia Andersin 

Astrid Holmström

Linnéa Lang