The squad of armed riot police arrived at 5 a.m. on 26 August. The abandoned office block at Spirou Trikoupi 17, near Exarchia Square in central Athens, had been home to more than a hundred asylum seekers since 2016. The police hauled the men, women and children from their beds and loaded them onto buses, with no notice of their destination. Those without papers were taken to Athens’ main immigration prison to be deported. When the building had been evacuated, the police took their batons and smashed everything inside. The entrance was sealed with bricks and mortar.
Alongside a Frontex vessel flying the Union Jack, a group of Afghan men sat dangling makeshift fishing rods into the harbour at Mytilene. It’s over a year since EU and Turkish leaders signed an agreement to ‘end’ irregular migration across the Aegean. Brokered shortly after a cascade of border closures along the overland Balkan route, the deal says that migrants who cross to Greece after 19 March 2016, if their asylum applications are considered inadmissible, will be returned to Turkey. In exchange for gatekeeping at its end, Ankara would receive €6 billion, visa-free travel for Turkish nationals and a promise to fast-track EU membership talks.