The “Hot Spot” of horror is what Moria turned to the last week and since its inauguration when numbers of new arrivals were high and the weather conditions harsh with constant rain falls. The authorities together with the UNHCR and all other involved actors of the humanitarian aid regime failed in protecting hundreds of refugees from what was a predictable catastrophe.
Trying to protect his baby / copyright: Salinia Stroux
“Mummy, mummy…,” desperate voices of children cut the sound of the strong rain fall like knives on Friday night when the horror of Moria reached once more its peak. In the darkness around the Non-Syrian gate of Moria three children are standing in the mud and crying. The two sisters and one brother lost hold of their parents. “They told us to wait in the tent. Then they went to get the documents for us. We are 5 days waiting in the queue. Two days we are permanently wet. We are hungry. We freeze. Our parents left hours ago. Now it is dark. We are afraid in the tent alone.”
Small boy covered in garbage bag / copyright: Salinia Stroux
That night dozens of children lose their parents. Others are aside their families in the queue. Only dozens of families still hold their places in the line as rain falls got so strong that rivers of water are falling down the dusty road of the queue where people are standing. Some are barefoot. Most are covered only with garbage bags. All are wet. The few people who didn’t give up in the hope to get a chance to enter now that most have tried to find a shelter to protect themselves from the rain, a pushing towards the fence. Small children faces are pressed on the fence. They are crying. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Rain-sodden feet, frozen white hands, hypothermic pregnant women and trampled down children’
Welcome to Europe and AlarmPhone Statement about the Situation on Lesvos Island / Greece
Barefoot in the rain a small Afghan boy is waiting in the queue for days / copyright: Salinia Stroux
Refugees who survive the journey and succeed to cross the maritime border between Turkey and Greece in small and overcrowded plastic boats are subjected to the so-called EU ‘hotspot approach’ since its launch on Friday 16th of October 2015. As part of the European Agenda on Migration, hotspots are now being deployed by mobile teams of the European border agency Frontex to support so-called ‘frontline EU states’ in systematically identifying and screening travellers who ‘illegally’ entered EU territory. One of Frontex’ main tasks is to speed up the ‘return process’, thus the deportation of those who Frontex ‘identifies’ as not coming from a country of war and/or as not having valid grounds for asylum in Europe.
Since Frontex has entered the scene, registration processes were dramatically slowed down. Frontex procedures of ‘screening’ individuals takes a long time which has caused great delays and thus created a situation of humanitarian emergency for the hundreds of people waiting outside. The official opening of this hotspot on Lesvos coincided with increased numbers of new arrivals and deteriorating weather conditions. While it rained non-stop in the past few days, dinghies kept arriving from Turkey. In the absence of any functioning queuing system and any form of crowd management by the authorities, and without access to shelter (protecting people from the harsh weather conditions), sanitary infrastructures such as toilets, as well as to food, water, dry clothing, medication and doctors, hundreds of desperate refugees are left to survive in between mud and piles of garbage outside of Moria’s fences.
The scenes in Moria remind us of war-zones: For several miles people are queuing, often for many days. They are exhausted and stand, sit or even lie in the mud, often after just having escaped death when crossing the sea. Highly vulnerable individuals are neither identified, nor protected, supported or prioritized. There are children, elderly, and pregnant women who are only cared for by activist volunteers and who are made to wait outside by Frontex, and those who drop out of this never-ending queue have to get back to the end of the line. Several women lost their unborn babies due to the stressful circumstances waiting in the line, families got separated in the chaotic situation, children are crying desperately for their parents.
Welcome to Europe has documented this awful situation already since the beginning of October in several Blogposts that included pictures of the scenery: http://infomobile.w2eu.net/.
At the same time, authorities have separated procedures and accommodation of Syrians from Non-Syrians, creating a two-class system where some are prioritized while others are discriminated against, even if one can hardly speak of any privilege in this situation of mass suffering.
For several months now, UNHCR as well as dozens of International and Greek NGOs have rushed to Lesvos to offer humanitarian aid to fill the gaps left by the Greek government. However, the foreseeable deterioration of weather conditions seems to have caught everyone by surprise – no one was prepared for the consequences of rain fall, nor has anybody managed to support those who are presently situated in several locations on the island, without basic resources and shelter. The response to the humanitarian crisis is too little and too late, while millions of Euros have flown into emergency aid. At the same time, the civil society, including mainly locals but also people coming from all over the world to help, has shown great solidarity without which we might have had to report of more victims of Fortress Europe on Lesvos Island.
The ongoing tragedy in the “Hot Spot” and around, mirrors the failure of Europe to protect refugees and the violence of the border regime on which European Migration policies are based. Screening and registration are priority, peoples’ lives are not.
We demand the immediate end of hotspot procedures and the instant withdrawal of Frontex personnel. The EU has to immediately put an end to the slowing-down of registration procedures produced by Frontex which is life-threatening. We denounce the procedure of ‘speeding up returns’ in the strongest possible terms. We call for the opening of land borders so that people on the move do not have to risk, and at times lose, their lives. We demand widespread humanitarian aid provisions to sufficiently address the pressing needs of those who arrive on the Greek islands and a dignified welcoming of refugees by offering protection.
++Refugees left to survive in Moria under inhuman conditions++Vulnerable groups unprotected for days in war zone like areal++
This child doesn’t stop crying as it is exhausted and afraid / copyright: Salinia Stroux
2,500 persons can be registered daily in Moria according to local media, while more than 10,000 arrived within the last 24 hours. Refugees are queueing kilometers in and outside the registration camp that was originally constructed as a prison. At the same time the registration camp lacks any form of a functioning queuing system as well as dignified infrastructures and basic needs provision. Refugees are sitting and sleeping for hours between mud and garbage, being pushed by the crowd, insulted and beaten by police forces and sometimes even thrown tear gas. They get sick and injured under the life threatening living conditions in Moria.
“I am queueing since 10 days!,” a Syrian man says. “I am single, but my family is left in Syria and I have to get them out to save their lives. I am very anxious. In this camp the is no human rights. It is zero zero.”
++No welcome for refugees in Moria++ Hot Spot feared to become deportation machinery++
Hot Spot to be inaugurated on Friday, October 15, 2015 in Moria camp while registration procedures are malfunctioning, there is no identification system for vulnerable groups in place and living conditions are inhumane and degrading. The lack of basic needs provision leaves refugees unprotected waiting in the registration queues for hours and days.
A father is standing in the police field near registration gates observing the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux
Meanwhile within the last days Lesbos welcomed many high ranking officials including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Austrian Chancellor Faymann, UN High Commissioner Guterrez and a US delegation of senators accompanied by the US ambassador in Athens David Pierce. On Friday Martin Schultz, President of the European Parliament is expected to visit the island with Dimitris Avramopoulos the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and Luxemburgs Minister of Foreign affairs Asselborn. The island currently attracts once again the worlds attention as the first “Hot Spot” in Greece is planned to open in presence of the official visitors and Greek Migration Minister Mouzalas in Moria on Friday, October 15, only shortly after the first days of functioning of the Hot Spot in Lampedusa, Italy. Within the next week a first small group of Syrian refugees are already planned to be relocated to Luxemburg.
Dozens of children are sleeping on the arms of the parents in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux
The identification detention centre Moria will be turned to the Hot Spot on Lesbos island after concluding a pilot phase which lasted for the last days supported by 53 specialists from Frontex. Tomorrow another 600 Frontex officers will arrive to start working in the Hot Spot. Already today 12 registration machines donated by Germany have been brought to the island to be used in Moria.
It is highly critical that until today it is unclear, how the Hot Spots will function in detail and that it is unknown what will happen after registration and screening to both population groups: The once assessed eligible as protection seekers and the rest whose deportation will be in plan. The only thing clear is that a few protection seekers will be send to Europe for asylum while many others will be deported to their home countries.
Daily registration numbers (careful: not numbers of arrivals!) have risen to 3,500, while neither the problem of food provision for the camps of Moria and Kara Tepe has been solved yet, nor are there sufficient tents, blankets or dry clothes for the wet newcomers. At the same time the limited support structures inside Moria are available only to a part of the refugee population (the Syrians and some Non-Syrians who have been already registered) and only at specific working hours while the refugee boats arrive at the shores of the island at any point of time during day and night. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Chaotic registration queues leave refugees in future Hot Spot under inhumane conditions for hours’
Hundreds of Syrian wait for their registration in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux
Hundreds of Syrians were waiting for hours in Moria to get registered as the computers used encountered technical problems. Syrians do now receive also in Mytilene again the 6-months suspension of deportation paper with a photo.
UNHCR Ikea refugee houses are full once more / copyright: Salinia Stroux
Queue of Non-Syrians October 10 / copyright: Salinia Stroux
Pilot “Hot Spot” to open located on Lesbos island. Only one day before the visit of UN High Commissioner for Refugees authorities close Kara Tepe camp and move Syrians to Moria camp. Meanwhile Non-Syrian nationalities being registered there already before have been kicked out of the few UNHCR tents.
An Afghan mother falling asleep holing her five-months-old in the arms / copyright: Salinia Stroux
António Guterres is going to visit Greece for the days between 9.-12. October to assess refugee crisis in Greece. In Lesvos, Guterres is going to visit the main arrival points of refugees and the so-called reception centers, while he will meet with local officials, NGOs working on the island and volunteer groups.
Refugee families queueing in the back of the riot police busses in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux
Only two days before his arrival to Greece local authorities suddenly started again using the expedited registration procedures in Moria pre-removal centre for the non-Syrian refugees, which they had applied during the escalation of the refugee crisis in the first 10 days of September, when 30,000 refugees were stuck on the island. The lighter bureaucracy is being used in Moria within the last month with an on off button every time things are getting worse, while in the Syrian camp Kara Tepe registration procedures got eased on a long term basis weeks ago.
During the last week non-Syrian refugees in Moria – among them many children – were suffering once more tear gas attacks and beatings by riot police as they were trying desperately to enter the pre-removal centre for registration. Dozens of refugees were transported to the hospital during these days.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Lesbos island on October 6, accompanied by Austrian chancellor Werner Feymann, to ostensibly appraise the refugee crisis on the islands firsthand, but what they saw there did not correspond to the everyday reality as thousands of refugees had left in four unscheduled extra ferries beforehand, the port had been cleaned, bus transportation of refugees from the north of the island to the camps had been halted, suddenly no boats were crossing the sea border just for the time during the short visit and his visit in Moria camp was focused on an inspection of the almost empty First Reception Centre, while in the meanwhile a few meters further inside the fenced territory at the pre-removal detention centre where registration takes place the desperate crowds were repressed by riot police with tear gas and severe beatings.
Queue of single men after tear gas attacks and beatings when registration halted / copyright: Salinia Stroux
A father tries to help his son after another tear gas attack by lightening a small fire and holding the smoke near his eyes / copyright: Salinia Stroux
“Why don’t the authorities apply a registration system that works? Who is the responsible here? I really would like to speak to him. There are easy solutions to the problem. I am in the queue for three days and three nights now. Look around. This looks like the end of the world here!”
October 3: Registration queue in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux
In the first days of October 2015 Moria has become for one more time a nightmare to refugees and activists alike even though registration procedures have been speeded up since September. Anyhow, the system changes every day with no one knowing how to actually get documents. The despair of the people arriving wet from the coasts, staying outside in the cold without shelter, food or water, medication and without any information on what to do – specifically in the nights – is creating anxiousness and stress. Hundreds of refugees stand for hours and through all of the night in queues: One day on the upper gate, the next day on the another gate, once with extra queues for families, once without…. While many refugees are pushing to enter and get registered, riot police is controlling the gates with clubs and tear gas by force. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Registration chaos, police violence, hunger, thirst and sleeping rough’
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