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Queues of Greek Pensioners Desperately Trying to Withdraw Money Took Over Athens Today

Banks have been ordered to re-open so that pensioners without debit cards can withdraw small amounts of cash.

by Panagiotis Maidis, Words: Pavlos Toubekis
01 July 2015, 11:38am

This article originally appeared on VICE Greece

"I feel sorry for us. We are so stupid for not having moved our money abroad. It's our own fault for wanting to act all proud of being Greek. Now look at us," said an elderly woman as she came out of a Greek National Bank branch in Kalithea, Athens.

On Wednesday morning, the Greek government ordered banks to reopen to allow pensioners without ATM cards to make small cash withdrawals. A maximum withdrawal limit of 120 Euros (£85) has been placed on their retirement funds.

"I've been queuing here since 4AM, and I was just told that I'm not getting paid today," the woman went on.

"Pack your bags and get out of this country while you're young," Spiros, who is on a state pension, told me. "And as if not having any money wasn't enough, we are also being internationally ridiculed," he continued, motioning towards the crowd of foreign reporters surrounding us.

The queues outside each branch were several metres long. Those whose last name starts with letters between A and K will be paid today. Thursday is for those between K and M and Friday will be M till Z.

"We deserve to be treated like this," said another old gentleman at the end of the queue. "We're the ones who allowed Merkel to tell us what to do."

Right at that time, a policeman showed up and began distributing queue tickets. I guess the branch had run out of employees to do the job. There was a short moment of panic as the crowd of pensioners literally jumped him. Those who managed to get a ticket left with a smile on their face.

At the time of writing, the queues remain endless.

Scroll down for more pictures.