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Attacks on migrants in Greece increasing dramatically, say rights groups

According to local rights groups, there have been 300 attacks on migrants since April, with many more likely unreported.

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Safar Haidari, a 29-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan and vice-president of the Nour Afghan cultural association, who was attacked by a group of 10–15 men on December 23, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

ATHENS - Attacks against migrants in Greece on the rise, say rights groups.

According to local rights groups, there have been 300 attacks on migrants since April, with many more likely unreported.

According to the Greek Reporter, anti-racism campaigners are pushing the for better police protection of immigrants who have faced increasing violence as the Greek economic crisis reaches its fifth year.

Right-wing anti-immigrant sentiment has been building in Greece as the economic conditions deteriorate.

The extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party has witnessed a meteoric rise from obscurity to winning 18 seats in parliament in the June 17 election.

The Associated Press recounted a recent attack on immigrants in suburban Athens, which involved nearly two dozen masked men with clubs.

"It was 10 o'clock at night and I was sitting outside eating because it was really hot ... Suddenly about 20 men appeared, maybe more. They were all wearing hoods. They started hitting us," Kumar, a 40-year-old who has lived in Greece for 12 years, told the Associated Press.

Rights groups in Greece say the police turn a blind eye to this kind of violence nor do Greek police keep statistics on racially-motivated crime.

It is unknown how many migrants live in Greece but it is likely in the hundreds of thousands.

Most live in squalid conditions in central Athens, often dozens to one apartment.

Greece is seen by most as a gateway to the rest of Europe - a pitstop to a better life that many find impossible to leave due to border controls and poverty.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120720/attacks-migrants-greece-increasing-dramatically-say-rights-group