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Down and Out in Athens

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Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis, based in Athens, spent several weeks documenting the unemployed and homeless in Greece as the continued economic downturn has impacted the numbers of homeless. Since the debt crisis erupted in 2009, hundreds of thousands of Greeks have lost their jobs -- the unemployment rate in the country reached 26.8 percent, as the economy contracted by another 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and even stricter austerity measures are being urged. See also Portraits of Greece in Crisis from last year. [23 photos]

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Alexandros, a 42-year-old from Serres in northern Greece, sits in the abandoned car he lives in, at the port of Piareus near Athens, on April 10, 2013. Alexandros owned a plant shop in Athens until 2010, when it was forced to close, he became homeless soon after. According to Praxis, a non-governmental organization, the number of homeless in Greece has nearly doubled to over 20,000 from 11,000 in 2009. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
Alexandros, a 42-year-old from Serres in northern Greece, sits in the abandoned car he lives in, at the port of Piareus near Athens, on April 10, 2013. Alexandros owned a plant shop in Athens until 2010, when it was forced to close, he became homeless soon after. According to Praxis, a non-governmental organization, the number of homeless in Greece has nearly doubled to over 20,000 from 11,000 in 2009. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
Michael, 36-years-old and unemployed, poses by an abandoned open-air cinema in central Athens, on February 8, 2013. Michael worked as a hotel clerk for over fifteen years but when the hotel closed he was unable to find work and in late 2011 became homeless. Two months later he was diagnosed with lymph node and thyroid cancer. He now lives outside a church. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Adrian, a 51-year-old from Romania, extracts copper from a cable in central Athens, on January 18, 2013. Living and working in Greece for over a decade, Adrian lost his job in 2011 when the lorry company he was working for closed down. He now lives in an abandoned warehouse in an Athens vegetable market and survives by collecting scrap. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Tareq, a 46-year-old unemployed painter, sits in the shed where he lives at an abandoned factory in central Athens, on May 30, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Tareq, a 46-year-old unemployed painter, reflected in a mirror in the shed where he lives in Athens, on May 30, 2013. Tareq, a Syrian refugee, who lived in Greece during the 1990s, returned to Syria, but fled back to Greece in 2012, to escape the violence there. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
A homeless scrap collector sleeps outside in central Athens, on May 26, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Andy, a 53-year-old unemployed German immigrant from Dusseldorf, sits by his makeshift home at a deserted harbor storage building in the port of Piraeus, near Athens, on April 13, 2013. Andy worked in Greece for many years, becoming homeless after he lost his job six years ago. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Michael, a 36-year-old unemployed clerk, sits in the sun near a bridge in central Athens, on May 24, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Boris Potev, a 56-year-old Bulgarian immigrant, lies on a mattress amid garbage in an Athens suburb, on April 9, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Yannis, a 53-year-old unemployed chef, sits with his head in his hands in front of a graffiti mural in Athens, on January 28, 2013. Yannis was a chef for over 19 years, until he lost his job in 2010 and a year later became homeless. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Savas, a 34-year-old who became homeless in 2009 after losing his job, sleeps in a tent at an open air photographic exhibition of homeless people organized by a charity called Klimaka in Athens, on April 14, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Marialena, a 42-year-old homeless AIDS sufferer and former drug addict, sleeps under a bridge in central Athens, on May 13, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Dimitrios, 51, watches as his girlfriend Marialena, a homeless AIDS sufferer and former drug addict who is on a methadone rehabilitation program, put on makeup after waking up under a bridge in Athens, on May 26, 2013. Dimitrios was a dancer for a famous Greek folk dancing troupe until he lost his job three years ago and became homeless. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Marialena pushes away her boyfriend Dimitrios, who is trying to clean up her self-inflicted wounds, under a bridge in central Athens, on May 15, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Homeless immigrants from Syria and north Africa sit near their home in the central train station in Athens, on May 2, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Matheos, 58, stands next to the makeshift shelter where he has lived since late 2011, on a hill in Athens, on January 23, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Giorgos, a 58-year-old who became homeless five years ago when he lost his job, sits on a park bench in Athens, on May 2, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Glikeria, 42, sits on a street in central Athens, on April 17, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Alexis, a 43-year-old former cycling champion, begs as he sits on his mattress in Athens, on January 20, 2013. Alexis became homeless when he lost his job in 2004, and became a drug addict in the following months. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Stephanos, 42, reflected in a mirror as he combs his hair before setting off to look for a job in Athens, on May 16, 2013. Stephanos became homeless in late 2012 when the clothes shop where he had worked for over a decade closed down and he had no income to pay for his flat. He now lives next to a church in central Athens and eats in soup kitchens. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Homeless people sleep outside a bank in Athens, on May 26, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Vaios, 62, a former construction worker, sits in the abandoned warehouse where he lives in the central vegetable market in Athens, on May 25, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
Alexandros, a 42-year-old from Serres, lights a cigarette as he sits in the abandoned car he lives in, at the port of Piareus near Athens, on April 10, 2013. Alexandros owned a plant shop in Athens until 2010, when it was forced to close. He became homeless soon after. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #

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