Thousands of refugees will be made homeless and left without support from tomorrow

During a protest in front of UNHCR offices held by beneficiaries against the immanent threat of eviction police welcomed them

Between 8,000 and 11,000 refugees who have received a positive decision on their claims for asylum will be evicted from their accommodation and have their cashcards blocked from today, 31st May 2020.

Life was already difficult enough in the Ministry’s camps or in NGO hotels or apartments with a cashcard to cover basic needs. But without shelter and this little support, it is clear that men, women and children will be pushed into homelessness and hunger.

A previous wave of evictions happened in April 2019, but this year the number of people facing destitution is even higher. And in November 2019 the law changed to give people even less chance of finding their feet – people have just 30 days to leave their accommodation after receiving a positive decision and their UNHCR cashcard support will be stopped immediately.

Today, a right wing government is in power and new right wing directors have recently been appointed for the 32 camps in mainland Greece – some of which are known fascists. No doubts exist that the threat to evict people by police force will turn into a harsh reality. It is difficult to predict what will happen from tomorrow, but let’s say this is clear: this government is more repressive, it enforces more irrational and more anti-migratory policies despite criticism and with no concern for legality. Greece is a scarier place to struggle for your papers and scarier for those who finally get papers too.

Recognised refugee are scared to lose the only thing they could get in Greece – protection status. Yet small protests have already erupted in different places over Greece, in camps and on the streets of the cities.If the government continues its stubborn plan to kick out and cut off all those families, the kids, the vulnerable, the ones it has apparently decided to protect (!) desperation and anger will most likely grow into larger protests. Or, as usually is the result of repressive migration policies, this government will push people to leave Greece no matter what and just for the purpose of survival – with or without travel documents.

People’s lives are lost at Greece’s borders. People are put in life-threatening situations every day as the Greek coast guard pushes them back unlawfully and exposes them to distress situations. People lose their lives in the Aegean hotspots. People are barely kept alive in the mainland camps without any hope or future to build. And at the end of this perilous journey to reach EU soil, after delays and suffering in Greece to obtain refugee status, they are pushed to disembark once again on a quest for safety, home and peace. If they have managed to pay the fees and wait enough time, they will make this next journey from Greece with a little blue travel document in their pocket saying “beneficiary of international protection”

“They tell us that if we do not leave our homes, we will be persecuted criminally and we will never get travel documents.”

S.* from Afghanistan a single mother reports that many beneficiaries got terrified by the employees of the NGOs running their flats.

And now we are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic! Essential services have been closed and even now are not properly operational. It was already difficult enough to take the necessary steps to ‘integrate’ – learn Greek, open bank accounts, get tax numbers and social security numbers, find work and a place to rent – but the New Democracy government and Covid-19 have made these things impossible. For example, since coming to power in July 2019, the ND government simply refuse to give protection seekers AMKA (social security numbers) so they cannot access public healthcare or legally work. The parallel PAAYPA system to give protection seekers a temporary social security number was announced many months ago and still people are waiting. In ESTIA flats, the UNHCR accommodation scheme where the most vulnerable protection seekers are placed in apartments with NGO social workers for support, only 10% have managed to open a bank account.

“I live with my kids in an ESTIA apartment. They told me we had to leave it and if we wouldn’t leave it we would not be any more considered for HELIOS. My Cash Card was already cut. Since I am in Greece I have been pushed to the ground many times and always I tried to stand up again. I don’t know how to stand now.”

A.* from Afghanistan, the single father is desperate.

Protection seekers face insurmountable obstacles to access what little support the Greek government can offer people in need, and the Helios program run by IOM is not fit for purpose. Helios offers some help paying rent for a maximum of 1 year, but you first need to have a bank account and have signed a contract to rent a house. How is this possible if you do not have any money? How is this possible if you do not have the necessary documents to open a bank account and make a formal housing contract? Helios’s own report speaks for itself – only 18% of people enrolled in the program are able to get the rental subsidies. Clearly Helios is not a solution.

One of the government’s excuses for the evictions is that space needs to be made for people to be transferred from the overcrowded squalid camps on the island ‘hotspots’. This logic is designed to divide people seeking protection and set them against each other. Making people and families homeless on the mainland is no ‘solution’ to the horrific conditions on the islands. People will be united and they will struggle for their rights.

Tomorrow, Monday 1st June, gathering called at UNHCR offices in Athens, Michalakopoulou 91, 12pm

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Called by NOT LEAVING MY HOME

facebook.com/notleavingmyhome

Image may contain: 1 person, text

We are a group of migrants who are recognised as refugees in Greece. We live in accommodation of Non Governmental Organisations. In April we were told to leave our houses by the end of May.

The New Democracy government decided to evict migrants during Corona while it’s state slogan is “STAY HOME”. Our cash card, which is for food, is also getting blocked.
Most of us are faced with serious health conditions or disabilities, we are single mothers, single women and elderly people.
The war against migrants began on the seas and at the borders, it continued in the jails, detention centres, overcrowded camps and through ID checks on the streets. Now this war takes place inside our homes.
WE ARE NOT LEAVING OUR HOMES!
We want homes, documents and cash assistance for everyone. Our children must go to school and have the right to study. We want health care conditions, AMKA and translators.

If you are a migrant facing similar situations contact us on the numbers below or facebook.

ما گروهی از مهاجران هستیم که درخواست پناهندگی مان در کشور یونان پذیرفته شده است. ما در اقامتگاه های غیر دولتی (خانه ها) زندگی میکنیم. در ابتدای آپریل به ما اطلاع داده شد که باید آخر ماه می خانه هایمان را ترک کنیم.دولت نیو دموکراسی تصمیم گرفته است که مهاجران را در دوران ویروس کرونا از خانه هایشان اخراج کند در حالیکه شعار دولتش “خانه بمانید” است. پول نقد ما که برای تهیه ی غذا است مسدود خواهد شد.بیشتر ما با مشکلات جدی سلامت یا ناتوانی های جسمی روبه رو هستیم،ما زنان مجرد و مادران سرپرست خانوار و افراد مسّن هستیم.
جنگ علیه مهاجران از دریاها و مرزها شروع شده و تا زندان ها و بازداشتگاه های پلیس،کمپ های پرجمعیت بسته ادامه پیدا میکند. حالا این جنگ در خانه هایمان رخنه کرده است.
ما خانه هایمان را ترک نمیکنیم.
ما خانه،مدارک،پول برای همه میخواهیم.
فرزندانمان باید به مدرسه بروند و حق تحصیل داشته باشند.ما خدمات بهداشتی سلامتی،آمکا و مترجم میخواهیم.
اگر شما یک مهاجر در چندین شرایطی هستید به ما بپیوندید و از طریق لینک تلگرام و فیسبوک با ما در ارتباط شوید.

Nous sommes un group de migrants reconnus comme réfugiées. Nous habitons dans es appartements d’accomodation de différentes ONG. En avril, il nous a été annoncé que nous devrons quitter nos logement à la fin de du mois de mais.
Le gouvernement actuel de la nouvelle democratie à décidé d’expulsé les migrants en pleine période de covid-19 quand son slogan officiel est ”restez a la maison”. La ”cash card” qui sert pour se payer a manger, va aussi être bloqué.La plupart de nous sommes confrontés a de sérieux problemes de santé, nous sommes des mères seules, femmes seules et des personnes agées.
La guerre contre les migrants commence sur les mers et aux fontieres,elle continue en prison, centres de détention, camps surchargés et les contrôles d’identité au faciès dans la rue. Maintenant cette guerre est dans nos maison. NOUS NE QUITTERONS PAS NOS MAISON!
Nous voulons des maisons, des papiers et de l’assistance en argent pour tout le monde.Nos enfants doivent aller a l’ école et avoir le droit d’ étudier. Nous voulons la sécurité sociale et de santé, AMKA et des traducteurs.
Si vous êtes migrants et que vous vivez des conditions similaires, contactez nous sur les numeros de telephone en dessous ou facebook.

نحن مجموعة من المهاجرين المعترف بهم كلاجئين في اليونان. نحن نعيش في سكن للمنظمات غير الحكومية. تم إعلامنا في نيسان بمغادرة منازلنا بحلول نهاية أيار.
قررت حكومة “الديمقراطية الجديدة” طرد المهاجرين خلال كورونا بينما شعار الدولة هو “إبقى في المنزل”. وبطاقتنا النقدية المخصصة للطعام يتم حظرها أيضا.
معظمنا يواجه ظروفاً صحية خطيرة أو إعاقات، نحن أمهات أو نساء عازبات.
بدأت الحرب ضد المهاجرين في البحار وعلى الحدود ، واستمرت في السجون ومراكز الاعتقال والمخيمات المزدحمة ومن خلال فحص الهوية في الشوارع.والآن هذه الحرب تحدث في منازلنا.

نحن لن نغادر بيوتنا!

نريد منازل ووثائق ومساعدات نقدية للجميع. أطفالنا يجب أن يذهبوا إلى المدرسة ولهم الحق في الدراسة. نريد ظروف رعاية صحية ، AMKA ومترجمين.
إذا كنت مهاجرًا تواجه مواقف مشابهة ، فاتصل بنا على الأرقام أدناه.

ہم تارکین وطن کا ایک گروہ ہیں جو یونان میں مہاجرین کے طور پر تسلیم کیے گئے ہیں۔ ہم غیر سرکاری تنظیموں کی ریائش گاہوں میں رہتے ہیں۔ ہمیں اپریل کے مہینے میں بتایا گیا کہ مئ کے آخر تک گھر خالی کریں۔ نئ جمہوریت حکومت نے کورونا کے دوران تارکین وطن کو بے دخل کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا جب کہ اس کا ریاستی نعرہ “ گھر میں رہو” ہمارے کیش کارڈ جو ہمارے کھانے کے لیے ہے وہ بھی بلاک ہورہی ہیں۔ ہم میں سے اکثر کی صحت سنگین صورتحال یا معزوری سے دو چار ہے ہم اکیلی مائیں اور اکیلی عورت ہیں۔ یہ جنگ تارکین وطن کے خلاف سمندر اور سرحدوں سے شروع ہو کر جیلوں، حراستی مراکز، بھیڑ بھری کیمپوں اور سڑکوں پر شناختی کارڈ چیک کے زریعے جاری ہے۔ اب یہ جنگ ہمارے گھروں تک پہچ گئی ہیں۔ ہم اپنے گھروں کو نہیں چھوڑ رہے ہیں۔ ہم سب کے لیے گھر، دستاویزات اور نقد امداد چاہتے ہیں۔ ہمارے بچوں کو لازمی اسکول جانا چاہے اور انہیں تعلیم حاصل کرنے کا پورا حق ہے۔ ہم صحت کی دیکھ بھال کے ضوابط AMKA اور مترجم چاہتے ہیں۔
اگر آپ اسی طرح کے حالات کا سامنا کرنے واے تارکین وطن ہیں تو نیچے دئیے نمبروں پر ہم سے رابط کریں او

Είμαστε μια ομάδα μεταναστών/τριών που έχουν αναγνωριστεί ως πρόσφυγες/ισσες στην Ελλάδα. Στεγαζόμαστε από μη κυβερνητικές οργανώσεις. Τον Απρίλιο μας είπαν να εγκαταλείψουμε τα σπίτια μας μέχρι τα τέλη Μαΐου.
Η κυβέρνηση της Νέας Δημοκρατίας αποφάσισε να εκδιώξει τους μετανάστες κατά τη διάρκεια του Covid19 ενώ το κρατικό σύνθημα είναι «ΜΕΝΟΥΜΕ ΣΠΙΤΙ». Η οικονομική μας ενίσχυση (cash card), η οποία είναι για τροφή, θα διακοπεί επίσης.
Οι περισσότεροι/ες από εμάς αντιμετωπίζουμε σοβαρά προβλήματα υγείας ή αναπηρίες, είμαστε μητέρες μόνες, γυναίκες μόνες και ηλικιωμένοι/ες.

Ο πόλεμος εναντίον των μεταναστών/τριών ξεκίνησε στις θάλασσες και στα σύνορα, συνεχίστηκε στις φυλακές, στα κέντρα κράτησης, στα υπερπλήρη στρατόπεδα και με τους ελέγχους ταυτότητας στους δρόμους. Τώρα αυτός ο πόλεμος λαμβάνει χώρα μέσα στα σπίτια μας.
ΔΕΝ ΘΑ ΑΦΗΣΟΥΜΕ ΤΑ ΣΠΙΤΙΑ ΜΑΣ!
Θέλουμε στέγαση, χαρτιά και οικονομική στήριξη για όλους/ες.
Τα παιδιά μας πρέπει να πάνε στο σχολείο και να έχουν το δικαίωμα να σπουδάσουν. Θέλουμε υγειονομική περίθαλψη, AMKA και διερμηνείς.

“The odyssey of nonsense!”

One small obstacle among many to reunite with your family

Office hours of KEP office in Victoria Square

Today the day begins with a simple task – or so it seems. Habib* from Afghanistan is an asylum seeker in Greece and a lone parent to one six-year-old boy. His wife resides legally in Germany and she is sick with breast cancer. Habib needs to sign a power of attorney in order to be represented by a lawyer in Athens, who will fight for his and his children’s right to be reunited with his wife. 

According to recent changes in law, his signature must be verified and stamped by a municipality office (KEP) or at a police station to be accepted by the competent Asylum Service. Due to general restrictions in place because of Covid-19, the municipality office currently only see people face-to-face by appointment and only in urgent cases.

Powers of attorney declarations should be signed and verified online, however to access online services you must have either a tax number (AFM) and the online codes for Greece’s taxis.net platform or a bank account and access to online banking. Habib, like most people seeking protection in Greece, has none of these things since there are multiple administrative hurdles in order to get them. 

We call the KEP office in Victoria Square to make an appointment. They offer their next appointment which is in three weeks time. However, we are not sure if they will accept to conduct this bureaucratic task. In another similar case, the refugee went to an appointment at a KEP and was tuend away.

Habib and his family must act fast, so we head to the police station nearest to his address in Aghios Panteleimonas. It is shortly before 14 o clock, 26th May 2020. The police officers at the entrance are sitting on two chairs. The area around the entrance is blocked with security strings. They say that the police have received orders not to verify signatures anymore. Only half an hour earlier, in another police station in Athens not far away, another friend had signed his power of attorney in front of a police officer – the simple task was completed in just a few minutes. But in Aghios Panteleimonas the officers insist we must go away. 

We walk to the next police station in Kypseli. Now it is 14:30. A dozen citizens stand in front of the police station. “No verification of signatures today”, the officer says. “We have more important things to do now.” I try to insist and explain the fact that we have already been sent away once today by officers in a different station. The guard continues: “You can use the online platform at open.gov“. We reply that Habib has no tax number and no bank account. The officer looks surprised and says: “Then he can not be legally in Greece”. I don’t know if this is a Greek tragedy or what. Next to us a fellow citizen says that he needs to verify his signature to buy a motorbike today. He says, he tried many times to complete the task using the online platform but the system kept breaking down. He says, he has already lost his taxi business thanks to the economic crisis and he has a small baby now. He needs this motorbike to get a job as soon as possible. The officer answers that even his elderly father has enough IQ to use the internet platform. 

We continue to the police station in Exarchia. It is approx. 15:20. “Come back in two hours!” we are told. But nobody is standing in front of the police station. There is no queues. The situation is calm. We politely ask if it might be possible to verify our signature now, but are met with nothing but angry looks. 

At 15:54 we are at the police station in Omonia. The guard says that only residents of Omonia area can verify their signatures here. He is polite enough to ask the responsible officer if he can help us. But his superior’s line is the following: “You have to do the signature in the police station of your neighbourhood”. We inform him that Aghios Panteleimonas rejected to undertake such duties in general. He does not believe what we tell him. People being arrested pass us by and an hour later, an officer comes down at around 17:02. He tells us we should go to the police station of residence. No exceptions. 

At 17:30 we are at the police station where the day had begun successfully, with a friend having his signature verified for a power of attorney easily. The shift has changed and we are met by different staff. We are rejected here too. Go to your own neighbourhood or perform the signature online, they tell us. We are tired of explaining why this is not feasible and return back to our homes with empty hands. 

Thank you Greek government for the most impractical and repressive law reform!
Thank you police officers for refusing to complete a simple duty arbitrarily!

P.S. This is how a seemingly simple thing such as authorising a lawyer can become a huge obstacle to accessing your rights.

“Daddy is there a problem with the aeroplanes in Greece? Why aren’t you coming?”

A campaign to reunite families separated between Germany and Greece (5)

In 2016, upon arrival to Greece, life in Moria was unbearable for the little family and their baby. They escaped to Athens where they stayed first homeless and then in a squat

A father in Greece – his wife and two small kids in Germany, one of whom he has never met

This family belongs to Frankfurt!

Waly* is a 29 year old father from Afghanistan. For a year and a half, he has been far from his family. His wife and his two sons live in Germany where they obtained residence permits. One of his sons was born there. Waly has never met him, he has only seen him on video calls. 

When Waly’s wife escaped Greece, their elder son was still a baby. Now he is old enough to talk and he watches the aeroplanes in the sky over Frankfurt. His son asks him,

“Daddy is there a problem with the aeroplanes in Greece? Why aren’t you coming?”

The truth is that is is impossible for Waly to join his family in Germany legally, since they are categorised by authorities on both sides as a ‘separated family’ case.

Also, his wife’s asylum claim was first rejected in Germany, which is another of the most common arguments used in rejections issued by the Germans when asylum seekers in Greece apply for family reunification. 
After taking a private lawyer and appealing before a court his wife got a one year status called ‘Abschiebungsverbot’. With this national humanitarian status issued mostly to vulnerable persons whose deportation is not feasible, family reunion via Dublin or the German embassy is not possible. Waly’s wife has not even been able to obtain a travel document in order to at least visit her husband in Greece and let their kids see their father. 

Life was unlivable for the family when they were together in Greece. They arrived on Lesvos and after six months of frequent experiences of violence in Moria they couldn’t bear it any more. They travelled together to Athens but as they had left the island with a geographical restriction stamp on their cards, they reached the mainland irregularly and could not progress their case.

Since March 2016, when the EU-Turkey Deal was implemented, asylum seekers are forced to stay on the Aegean Islands. Only upon identification of a vulnerability can they move to the mainland, or in cases of family reunification or if their asylum procedure has been concluded positively. Families with children where both parents are present, are not considered ‘vulnerable’ enough.

Upon arrival to the Greek capital, the family’s living conditions did not improve. They were homeless and they had no access to shelter. They couldn’t find support or even food. For two years the family lived in a squat together and eventually decided they had no choice but to use the little money they had left to escape these conditions. 

As they did not have enough money to travel together as a family, Waly’s wife and their son were forced to move to Germany alone. After they left, the squat that the family had been staying in got evicted by riot police. Following that terrifying event, Waly has spent the last year and half in Athens in the same unbearable conditions, but now alone, far from his family. 

Waly has been to many lawyers in Athens but they tell him they cannot help, because the 3-month Dublin deadline has passed and he separated from his wife and child ‘voluntarily’. 

“How is something voluntary, when you have no other choice?? Being far from my family is no life. In Afghanistan we were always scared of dying, but there you die once. Here in Greece I feel I loose myself every day that I am without my wife and my kids. How is it that I have not even met my own child? Last year I tried many times to end my life. Today I understand I must try and stay strong.”


*names changed

Not a happy day!

International Day of Families cannot be celebrated by those separated by borders!

copyright: Salinia Stroux

“My thoughts are dark. There are so many problems. I wouldn’t know it’s the International Family Day. I am feeling scared and worried inside the camp we stay in Greece. Even if I sometimes feel a second of happiness it gets lost in the manifold problems we face. Our kid is alone in Germany. He feels pain in his heart from the stress. He asks for help, but I am far. My wife’s situation gets worse day by day. She cries, she forgets, she loses control of her body. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I try not to loose hope.”

Morteza B.*, father and husband, whose story is here

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that the 15th May would be observed as the International Day of Families. While some families can celebrate this day, many others cannot. They are separated from each other, unable to live as one. 

But what makes one family different from another? Nothing! A family is a family no matter what papers they have or don’t have. Families should not be separated by passports and borders! The International Day of Families should not just be for some families – it is for all families! In fact, every day should be family day. 

Recently, the Infomobile started a campaign, sharing stories of families separated between Greece and Germany. We want to shed light on this issue and to struggle with people for their right to family life. Our demands are not exceptional. We do not ask governments do something extra, or out of kindness. We simply demand that European governments fulfil their legal obligations to reunite families, under the European Dublin III Regulation, national and international laws. 

And we will not be silent. These are just four stories of hundreds and we will continue to publishing more:

father is alone in Germany, fighting cancer away from his wife and their 8 year old boy in Greece. They lived in a tent on Samos while he was dying, he had to leave Greece but now he is alone. The family have been separated for 1 year and 4 months already.

12 year old boy is alone in Germany, his mother is dead and his father and three siblings are stuck in Greece. The boy got lost when the family tried to escape Greece together. They were trying to leave because they had suffered sleeping in a tent in Moria together, and then witnessed a terrible fire in the camp on the mainland they were sent to. Now the Greek Asylum Service will not allow them to apply for family reunification. The family have been separated for around 1 year already.

17 year old boy is alone in Germany, away from his parents and three siblings who are in Greece. They were violently pushed back to Greece when trying to escape together as a family. The Greek Asylum Service will not allow them to apply for family reunification. The family have been separated for 2.5 years already.

mother is alone in Germany, fighting cancer away from her husband and four year old son who are in Greece. Their boat almost sank when they risked their lives to reach European soil. Now the mother can only watch her son grow on the phone. The family have been separated for 8 months already.

!The separation of these families, and any families, is unnecessary, unfair and unlawful!

Although an evident injustice, as we say in our introductory statement to the campaign, thousands of families remain torn apart and are kept actively separated by national authorities.

We must raise our voices together with those who are separated from their loved ones especially today and every day!

A psychological expert opinion published as part of our campaign´s introduction, clearly describes the damage that separating families causes. Having that in mind, we insist once more that the well-being of children must be prioritised and their best interests have to be upheld!

Hey governments! Hey politicians! These are real people, like you and I! 

Kids should not be without family to look after them!

Partners should not be apart from each other!

Families should not be missing children!

WE DEMAND ALL FAMILIES TO BE REUNITED NOW!

“Ich sehe meinem Jungen zu wie er grösser wird – jedoch nur übers Handy”

Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien (4)

Der kleine Mohammed* lernt Fahrrad fahren, als seine Mutter Griechenland verlassen hat

Ein Vater mit einem 4 Jahre alten Jungen in Griechenland – die Ehefrau/Mutter leidet an Krebs und unterzieht sich aktuell allein in Deutschland einer Chemotherapie 

Diese Familie gehört nach Hamburg!

Fereshta* (37) heiratete ihren Mann Habib* (33) im Iran. Sie wurde im Iran als Kind afghanischer Flüchtlinge geboren. Habib floh als Teenager mit seiner Familie aus Afghanistan in den Iran. Das Leben im Iran war sehr beschwerlich. Die meisten afghanischen Flüchtlinge im Iran haben entweder eine befristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis, die nur gegen Zahlung einer Gebühr verlängert werden kann, oder sie bleiben ganz ohne Papiere. Während Fereshta eine sechsmonatige Aufenthaltsgenehmigung hatte, war ihr Ehemann undokumentiert, ebenso ihr gemeinsames Kind. Nach ihrer Heirat wurde Habib zweimal verhaftet und zurück nach Afghanistan deportiert. Dort ist er bis heute in Lebensgefahr. 

Im Jahr 2017 erkrankte Fereshta. Ihre Brust schwoll immer mehr an und schmerzte. Sie war nicht krankenversichert, und so dauerte es Monate, bis Habib genug Geld sammeln konnte, um die teure Untersuchung in einem örtlichen Krankenhaus bezahlen zu können. Die Diagnose lautete Brustkrebs und war ein harter Schlag für die Familie. Verzweifelt versuchte Habib, seine Frau zu retten, arbeitete jeden Tag und lieh sich Geld, um die dringend benötigte Chemotherapie zu finanzieren.

Eines Tages, auf dem Rückweg vom Krankenhaus, wurde das Paar von der Polizei kontrolliert, die Habib festnehmen und erneut abschieben wollte. Fereshta weinte und flehte die Beamten an, ihn gehen zu lassen, weil sie krank war und ihn brauchte. Die Familie musste die iranische Polizei letztlich bestechen, um einer Verhaftung zu entgehen.

Nach diesem Vorfall war Fereshta und Habib klar, dass sie nicht länger im Iran bleiben konnten. Sie nahmen ihr kleines Kind und flohen. In den Bergen an der Grenze zur Türkei entdeckte die iranische Grenzpolizei ihre Gruppe. Sie liessen die Hunde auf sie los. Fereshta und ihre Familie konnten entwischen. Sie nahm die Tasche, ihr Mann das Kind. Die Polizei schoss. Noch immer kann sie das Geräusch der Kugeln hören. Sie erinnert sich noch deutlich an die Felsen und Büsche, die sie in Panik durchqueren mussten.

“Jeden Augenblick dachte ich, gleich würde mich eine Kugel treffen. Auf unserem Weg nach Europa gab es viele Momente wie diesen, in denen ich dachte, es wäre unser letzter. Dazwischen gab es diese anderen Momente, in denen ich den Schmerz in meinem Körper wieder stark spürte und ich an den Krebs erinnert wurde.”

Sieben Mal versuchte die Familie, nach Griechenland zu gelangen. Jedes Mal wurde sie von der türkischen Polizei festgenommen und inhaftiert. Fereshta erinnert sich mit Schrecken an die Woche, die sie im Abschiebelager von Izmir verbrachten.

“Bei unserer Ankunft wurden wir alle durchsucht. Die Beamtin war schockiert, als sie meine Brust bei der Durchsuchung abtastete. Sie fühlte sich wie Stein an. Wir waren drei Familien in einer Zelle. Wir konnten nicht hinausgehen. Ich hatte meine Schmerztabletten in meiner Tasche, durfte sie aber nicht holen. Ich saß die ganze Nacht wach und litt. Nach einer Woche brachten sie einen Arzt. Dann wurden wir entlassen…

Bei unserem letzten Versuch, Griechenland zu erreichen, wäre unser Schlauchboot fast gesunken. Die Aussenwand des Bootes hatte ein Loch. Wasser drang ein. Das war zum Winteranfang 2018. Das Wetter war entsprechend schlecht. Nur im letzten Moment wurden wir gerettet.

Sie brachten uns ins Lager Moria. Ich erzählte ihnen von meiner Krankheit. Die Ärztin, die mich untersuchte, bekam Angst, als sie den Zustand meiner Brust sah. Ich wurde zur Untersuchung ins Krankenhaus geschickt. Wir wohnten in einem Container mit drei Familien – insgesamt elf Personen in einem Raum. Dann schickte uns das UNHCR nach Athen,wo wir in einer Wohnung untergebracht wurden.“

Zwei Monate nach ihrer Ankunft in Griechenland wurde Fereshta erneut untersucht, diesmal in Athen. Ihre Chemotherapie begann. Die Therapie zeigte jedoch nicht die erwartete Wirkung. Die Mutter fühlte sich sehr krank, weshalb eine Strahlenbehandlung eingesetzt wurde.

“Die Ärzte sagten, ich müsse operiert werden. Ich würde einen Anruf erhalten, um zu erfahren, wann mein OP-Termin sei. Niemand rief an. Inzwischen taten auch meine Zähne unglaublich weh. Ich bat um Hilfe. Meine Tage waren ausgefüllt von Krankenhausbesuchen. Ich musste mich oft ohne Übersetzer*in verständigen. Manchmal wurde ich weggeschickt, weil sie mich nicht verstehen konnten. Es war nicht leicht.”

Habib hatte Angst und fühlte sich hilflos. Er wusste nicht, ob seine Frau die nötige Behandlung schnell genug erhielt.. Er wollte sie nicht verlieren. Seine Freunde rieten ihm, seine Frau zur Heilung nach Deutschland zu schicken. Was sollte er tun? Sie hatten nicht genug Geld, um zusammen weiter zu fliehen. Sie hatten alle ihre Habe für die Behandlung und die Medikamente im Iran und die Reise nach Griechenland ausgegeben. Er wollte sie aber auch nicht alleine lassen. Schlussendlich entschieden sie gemeinsam, dass Deutschland die einzige Lösung sei. Sie entschieden alles zu tun, um sicherzustellen, dass Fereshta die beste medizinische Versorgung erhielt.

Im September 2019, nach fast einem Jahr in Griechenland, gelang Fereshta die Flucht nach Deutschland. Sie wurde von Spezialisten untersucht und innerhalb weniger Wochen sofort operiert. Bis heute muss sie sich einer Chemotherapie unterziehen. Ihr Asylantrag wurde aus humanitären Gründen mit einem Abschiebeverbot beschlossen. Sie ist mittlerweile in Deutschland ansässig, hat aber keinen internationalen Schutzstatus erhalten und kann daher nur aus humanitären Gründen einen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung stellen. 

Seit mehr als zwei Jahren lehnt Deutschland solche Anträge auf Familienzusammenführung routinemäßig ab, wenn der Familienangehörige in Deutschland ein Abschiebeverbot hat. In der Regel wird dies mit dem Argument begründet, dass das der Asylbescheid in der ersten Instanz negativ gewesen sei. Gleichzeitig erteilt Deutschland jedoch in der Mehrzahl der Fälle afghanischer Asylbewerber nur diesen (nationalen) Abschiebeverbot-Status, der faktisch kein internationalen Schutzstatus darstellt und somit keinen positiven Entscheid. 

Fereshta und Habib kämpfen weiterhin dafür zusammen zu sein – und trotz der geringen Hoffnung eine Lösung zu finden.

“Mein Therapieplan reicht bis 2021. Jede Woche ist Chemotherapie angesetzt. Es ist zermürbend, sie auszuhalten. Das Schlimmste ist die Einsamkeit und dass mein Kind und mein Mann so fern sind. Jeden Tag telefonieren wir. Mein Junge weint oft. Er fragt mich dann, wann er zu mir kommen kann. Er malt sich Pläne aus für diesen Tag. Ich sehe wie er größer wird, aber eben nur auf dem Telefon. Seit ich weg bin, hat er Fahrrad fahren gelernt. Er hat gesagt, dass ich ihm ein Fahrrad kaufen soll, wenn er zu mir nach Deutschland kommt. Es ist schwierig, mit dieser Situation allein fertig zu werden. Weil ich sehr bedrückt bin habe ich eine Psychotherapie begonnen und nehme Medikamente zum Schlafen ein.”

Fereshtas Ehemann Habib leidet nun schon drei Jahre unter dem Druck, seiner Frau nicht helfen zu können. Seit ihrer Ankunft in Griechenland leidet er unter ständigen Kopfschmerzen.

“Jetzt ist sie in guten Händen und wird medizinisch gut versorgt, aber ich bin nicht an ihrer Seite, um sie zu unterstützen. Unser Kind vermisst sie. Er braucht seine Mutter. Wir beide können nicht schlafen. Ich grüble viel. Das ist der Druck des Lebens, den ich spüre. Meine kranke Frau ist so weit weg und wir sind hier gefangen. Unser Sohn glaubt mir nicht mehr, wenn ich ihm sage, dass wir bald bei seiner Mutter sein werden. Er hat sein Vertrauen in seinen Vater verloren. Ich versuche vergeblich, ihm seine Hoffnung zurück zu geben.” 

Ein paar hundert Kilometer nördlich von ihrem Mann und ihrem Kind kämpft Fereshta um ihr Überleben und darum die Hoffnung nicht zu verlieren.

“Ich möchte gesund sein. Ich wünsche mir, dass mein Mann und mein Kind bald hierher kommen. Ich wünsche mir, dass wir zusammen ein friedliches und normales Leben führen können. Ich wünsche mir, dass keine Familie auf dieser Welt getrennt wird!”

* Namen geändert

„Wir sollten jetzt bei ihm sein, und er braucht uns auch!“

Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien (3)
Zinab* und Ahmed in Griechenland sprechen mit Farhad, der in Deutschland im Krankenhaus liegt.

Ein Mann getrennt von seiner Frau und seinem kleinen Kind, die in Griechenland festhängen . er stirbt in Deutschland an Krebs

Diese Familie gehört nach Aachen!

Zinab* kam mit ihrem Mann Farhad und ihrem Sohn Ahmed, der 8 Jahre alt ist, nach Griechenland. Jetzt ist Farhad in Deutschland, von seiner Frau und seinem Sohn getrennt. Er befindet sich im Spätstadium seiner Krebserkrankung und hat nur noch wenige Monate zu leben.

Die Familie ist kurdisch, aus Afrin (Syrien). In der Türkei erfuhr Farhad, dass er schwer an Krebs erkrankt war. Da er aber Kurde ist, beantwortete keines der Krankenhäuser in der Türkei die Fragen der Familie oder kümmerte sich um sein Wohlergehen. Die Familie wurde in der Türkei allein aufgrund ihrer Kurdischen Herkunft wiederholt belästigt. Es war kein sicherer Ort für sie.

So riskierte die Familie im März 2018 ihr aller Leben, um sich in Europa in Sicherheit zu bringen, und fuhr mit einem Schlauchboot auf die griechische Insel Samos. Sie schliefen 40 Tage lang zusammengedrängt in einem Sommerzelt im “Hotspot” Vathy auf der Insel. Farhad war unglaublich krank – er erbrach sich und konnte nichts essen. Aufgrund der schrecklichen Lebensbedingungen verschlechterte sich seine Situation.

Als die Ärzte ihn untersuchten, sagten sie, er würde sterben. Es war kalt und regnete, und der Boden unter ihnen im Zelt war nass. Ahmed flehte seine Familie an, Griechenland zu verlassen. Er konnte die Toiletten nicht benutzen, da sie so schmutzig waren. Es gab kein warmes Wasser zum Waschen. Farhad litt unter den Schmerzen, und seine Familie hatte nur kaltes Wasser, um ihn zu baden, und die kalte Erde zum Schlafen.

Da Farhad dringend medizinische Hilfe benötigte, wurde die Familie in ein Flüchtlingslager auf dem griechischen Festland verlegt. Farhad befand sich in dem isolierten Lager fast einen Monat lang immer noch unter starken Schmerzen.

Als Farhad im Lager auf dem Festland ankam, hörten seine Schmerzen nicht auf. Drei Mal musste ein Krankenwagen die weite Strecke zum Lager der Familie zurücklegen, weil Farhad solche Schmerzen hatte. Sie injizierten ihm Schmerzmittel. Schließlich wurde er ins Krankenhaus gebracht, wo er zwei Monate lang blieb.

Farhad musste viele Untersuchungen machen und hatte eine Notoperation, die elf Stunden dauerte. Zinab wurde gewarnt, dass er diese möglicherweise nicht überleben würde. Zinab und Ahmed schliefen 4 Tage lang im Krankenhaus, weil das Lager, in dem sie lebten, über eine Stunde entfernt war.

Wenige Tage bevor Farhad das Krankenhaus verließ, wurden Zinab und ihr Kind in eine Wohnung in Athen verlegt. Farhad wurde dann entlassen, aber er musste jede Woche ins Krankenhaus zurückgehen und nahm regelmässig Medikamente ein.

Die Familie blieb etwa sechs Monate in Athen zusammen, aber alle, auch Farhads Ärzte, sagten, dass er bessere Überlebenschancen hätte, wenn er in Deutschland behandelt würde, weil dort ein besser ausgestattetes öffentliches Gesundheitssystem bestehe und der Zugang zu den notwendigen Medikamenten gesichert sei. Farhad sagte, seine griechischen Ärzte behandelten ihn sehr gut, aber er hoffe, dass er anderswo mehr Chancen habe sich zu erholen und seine gefährliche Krankheit zu überleben.

Während seiner gesamten Zeit in Griechenland litt Farhad sehr. Er hatte sogar daran gedacht, Selbstmord zu begehen, um seinen Schmerz zu beenden. Es war eine schwere Entscheidung und eine zermürbende Reise, aber im Januar 2019 floh Farhad allein weiter nach Deutschland. Der Familie fehlte die finanzielle Möglichkeit, ihn zu begleiten. Er ging nach Deutschland, um gesund zu werden und um für sein Leben und für seine Familie zu kämpfen.

Die Familie hatte keine Ahnung, dass sie am Ende für so lange Zeit getrennt sein würden. Als sie begriffen, wie schwierig es war, wieder zusammen zu finden, suchten sie sich in Athen eine Anwältin, die ihnen mit ihrem Familiennachzug über die deutsche Botschaft hilft.

Doch über ein Jahr später ist die Familie noch immer getrennt. Wegen des Krieges ist es schwierig, wichtige Dokumente aus Syrien zu erhalten. Farhad hat nicht mehr lange zu leben.

Die Familie telefoniert fast täglich per Videoanruf, aber das ist ein grausamer Ersatz für das gemeinsame Leben am gleichen Ort, vor allem, wenn nur noch wenig Zeit bleibt. In seinen wachen Stunden spricht Ahmed von seinem Vater – er erzählt seinen Freunden in der Schule, dass er bald zu ihm nach Deutschland gehen wird. Er fragt seine Mutter, wann er seinen Vater wieder küssen oder mit ihm durch die Straßen spazieren kann. Während er schläft, träumt Ahmed von Farhad.

Auch Zinab kann das Leben ohne ihren Mann neben ihr nicht ertragen. Sie fürchtet, dass niemand bei ihm ist, um die einfachen Dinge für ihn zu erledigen, mit ihm zu reden, ihm ein Glas Wasser zu geben.

In den letzten Wochen ist Farhad mehrfach operiert worden. Der kleine Ahmed weint tagelang, er sagt, er möchte seinen Vater sehen, er möchte, dass seine Familie zusammen ist. Zinab versucht, stark zu sein, aber auch sie weint oft.

“Wir sollten jetzt bei ihm sein, und er braucht uns auch!”

Zinab

* Namen geändert

Einige Fakten über die Hindernisse in der medizinischen Versorgung, denen Krebspatient*innen in Griechenland gegenüberstehen

Seit vielen Jahren sehen sich alle Krebspatient*innen in Griechenland mit großen Hindernissen konfrontiert, um rechtzeitig die notwendigen Diagnosen, Untersuchungen und Behandlungen zu erhalten. Sparmaßnahmen haben das öffentliche Gesundheitssystem seit Beginn der Schuldenkrise in Griechenland im Jahr 2009 hart getroffen. Krebspatient*innen gehören zu denjenigen, die am meisten leiden.

Die Mittel für staatliche Krankenhäuser wurden in den letzten zehn Jahren um mehr als 50% gekürzt. Er besteht ein gravierender Mangel an allem: von Bettlaken, Gaze und Spritzen bis hin zu Ärzt*innen und Krankenschwestern. Die Patient*innen, die es sich leisten können, wenden sich daher oft an private Gesundheitsfürsorge. Alle anderen haben es schwer.

Eine neue Studie mit dem Titel “Ein neues nationales Gesundheitssystem”, die von Dianeosis in Auftrag gegeben wurde, fand heraus, dass Griechenland heute nur 5 Prozent seines Bruttoinlandsprodukts für die öffentliche Gesundheitsversorgung ausgibt, während der Durchschnitt der Europäischen Union (EU) bei 7 Prozent liegt.

“Die sichere Mindestgrenze für jedes Gesundheitssystem liegt, wie wir wiederholt betont haben, bei 6 Prozent des BIP”.

Panhellenische Ärztekammer 2019

Die Autor*innen der Studie führen die Krise des Gesundheitswesens in Griechenland auf Mittelkürzungen, Personalmangel und Missmanagement zurück, deren Ursache in einem Jahrzehnt der Sparmaßnahmen liegt. Eine weitere Folge davon ist, dass die junge Generation der griechischen Ärzt*nnen gezwungen war, auf der Suche nach Arbeit zu emigrieren. Es wird geschätzt, dass mehr als 15.000 Ärzte das Land verlassen haben hauptsächlich in Richtung Grossbritannien, Deutschland, Zypern und Schweden.

Die Schwierigkeiten beim Zugang zu und bei der Inanspruchnahme von Gesundheitsdiensten in Griechenland existieren vor allem für diejenigen, die sie am dringendsten benötigen, und setzen somit den Faktor der Gleichheit und sozialen Gerechtigkeit aufs Spiel.

Darüber hinaus ergab die Studie, dass heute jede*r fünfte Griech*in nicht in der Lage ist, sich die notwendigen Gesundheitsdienste zu leisten. Jede*r dritte Krebspatient*in ist zudem nicht in der Lage, seinen*ihren Arzt regelmäßig aufzusuchen, während jede*r vierte Schwierigkeiten hat, die benötigte Medizin zu erhalten.

Der verhinderte Zugang zu notwendigen Medikamenten ist ein grosses Problem mit möglicherweise tödlichen Folgen. Krebsmedikamente sind lebenswichtig, aber oft unzugänglich. Im Februar 2020 prangerte der Pharmazeutische Verband von Athen den gravierenden Mangel an spezialisierten Medikamenten in Griechenland an, unter anderem solcher, die zur Kontrolle der Nebenwirkungen der Chemotherapie für Krebspatienten, aber auch für die Chemotherapie selbst eingesetzt werden. Die Hellenic Cancer Federation (ELLOK) appellierte am 22.1.2020 an das Gesundheitsministerium, Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, um die Versorgung mit Medikamenten zu normalisieren. Der Mangel an antineoplastischen Grundarzneimitteln für Krebspatienten bedeutet nach Ansicht der Föderation schwerwiegende Verzögerungen und Absagen der Chemotherapien, die Patient*nnen und Ärzt*nnen zur Verzweiflung bringen.

Viele Medikamente gelangen zwar nach Griechenland, werden dann aber in andere Länder wie Deutschland weiter gehandelt, die höhere Preise dafür zahlen. Dann gibt es Medikamente, die zwar unentbehrlich, aber so billig sind, dass kein Unternehmen sie nach Griechenland importieren wird. Diese sollten durch Notimporte gedeckt werden, aber die zuständige Regierungsbehörde hat keine Mittel, um sie zu bezahlen, und hat die Bestellungen eingestellt. Gleichzeitig hat die griechische Regierung offene Schulden bei vielen Apotheken des Einzelhandels, so der Panhellenische Pharmazeutische Verband (PFS), so dass viele von den Patienten gezwungen sind Vorauszahlungen für Medikamente zu zahlen.

“Es ist eine Sache, einen Patienten zu bitten, seine eigene Decke mit ins Krankenhaus zu bringen. Und eine ganz andere, ihm ein Medikament vorzuenthalten, das den Unterschied zwischen Leben und Tod bedeutet.”

Persefoni Mitta, Leiterin der Vereinigung der Krebspatienten in Mazedonien und Thrakien

Während der Covid-19-Pandemie sind die Dinge noch schwieriger geworden. Heute besteht das Hauptproblem in den langen Wartelisten für Strahlentherapie und Operationen. Zoe Grammatoglou von der Vereinigung der Krebspatienten, Freiwilligen, Freunde und Ärzte in Athen erklärt:

“Im Attika-Krankenhaus in Athen beträgt die durchschnittliche Wartezeit für eine Strahlentherapie derzeit 3-4 Monate. Diese Verzögerungen gab es auch schon vor der Covid-19-Pandemie aufgrund des Personalmangels in den Krankenhäusern. Die durchschnittliche Wartezeit für Operationen beträgt derzeit etwa einen Monat. Alle Termine in öffentlichen Krankenhäusern haben sich weiter verzögert. Es ist sehr wichtig hinzuzufügen, dass es in Griechenland keine Hospize für die Betreuung von Personen im letzten Krebsstadium gibt”.

Zoe Grammatoglou (13.04.2020)

Im Falle von Geflüchteten und Migrant*innen gibt es noch größere Hindernisse für den Zugang zu kostenloser medizinischer Versorgung, insbesondere seit Juli 2019, als die rechtsgerichtete Partei Nea Demokratia gewählt wurde. Die neue Regierung weigerte sich weiter Drittstaatsangehörigen eine Sozialversicherungsnummern (AMKA) zuzuweisen. Ärzte ohne Grenzen (MSF) schätzte Anfang dieses Jahres, dass 55.000 Schutzsuchende ohne Zugang zur öffentlichen Gesundheitsversorgung geblieben sind, und prangerte insbesondere die verheerende Situation für schwerkranke Kinder im “Hotspot” Moria auf Lesvos an.

“Wir sehen viele Kinder, die an Krankheiten wie Diabetes, Asthma und Herzkrankheiten leiden, die gezwungen sind, in Zelten zu leben, unter miserablen, unhygienischen Bedingungen, ohne Zugang zu spezialisierter medizinischer Versorgung und Medikamenten, die sie brauchen”.

Dr. Hilde Vochten, medizinische Koordinatorin von Ärzte ohne Grenzen in Griechenland

Mitte April 2020 sollte ein neues Sozialversicherungssystem starten (PAAYPA), über welches Asylsuchenden eine vorläufige Sozialversicherungsnummer zugewiesen werden soll. Es wurde angekündigt, dass das System ab dem 15. April in Kraft treten sollte. Bislang funktioniert es aber noch nicht wie versprochen.

Covid-19 hat zudem weitere Hürden für die Gesundheitsfürsorge geschaffen, da Schutzsuchende, die Griechenland erreichen, zunächst ihren Asylantrag registrieren müssen, um ihren Aufenthalt zu regularisieren. Erst dann haben sie Anspruch auf eine PAAYPA-Nummer. Da die griechische Asylbehörde seit dem 13. März geschlossen ist und bis mindestens 15. Mai geschlossen bleibt, können Schutzsuchende zur Zeit kein Asyl beantragen. Daher müssen Menschen mit chronischen und schweren Krankheiten unter Umständen monatelang warten, bis sie Zugang zur notwendigen medizinischen Versorgung haben. Bis dahin steht ihnen nur die Notfallversorgung zur Verfügung.

Solange Schutzsuchende kein Asyl beantragen können, haben sie zudem keinen Zugang zu den Geldleistungen für Asylsuchende, was bedeutet, dass sie alle Medikamente selbst bezahlen müssen.

Schutzsuchende, die von der Landgrenze in der Region Evros ankommen, sehen sich mit einem systematischen Mangel an Aufnahmebedingungen konfrontiert, da ihre Asylanträge in der Regel nicht im Aufnahme- und Identifizierungszentrum (RIC) von Fylakio registriert werden. Nach ihrer Freilassung erreichen sie Thessaloniki oder Athen selbst und bleiben meist wochen- oder monatelang obdachlos.

Gleichzeitig sitzen Schutzsuchende, die auf den Ägäischen Inseln ankommen, unter Tausenden von anderen in den berüchtigten “Hotspot”-Lagern von Moria (Lesvos), Vathy (Samos), Vial (Chios), auf Leros und Kos fest und leben unter höchst prekären Bedingungen in Zelten oder überfüllten Containern. Seit den jüngsten Gesetzesänderungen werden Neuankömmlinge nach März 2020 regelmäßig inhaftiert und sehen sich beim Zugang zum öffentlichen Gesundheitssystem mit noch größeren Lücken konfrontiert.

Der UNHCR Griechenland hat kürzlich auf die Probleme im “Hotspot” Moria hingewiesen.

“Abdul, 67, sitzt auf einem Hocker vor seinem Zelt. In Afghanistan war bei Abdul Lungenkrebs diagnostiziert worden. Abdul sagte, er sei seit seiner Ankunft im Lager mit nichts anderem als Paracetamol behandelt worden. Das medizinische Personal in Moria und im örtlichen Krankenhaus ist überfordert. NGOs und freiwillige Ärzte arbeiten rund um die Uhr. Trotzdem können sie sich oft nur um die dringendsten Notfälle kümmern, und selbst schwere chronische Krankheiten bleiben unbehandelt”.

UNHCR, 21. Februar 2020

Während der Covid-19-Pandemie hat Griechenland eine landesweite Ausgnangsperre ab 23. März 2020 erklärt (Kommentar der Autorinnen: sie endete am 4. Mai). Für Asylbewerber und Flüchtlinge gilt somit nicht #stayathome , sondern #stayinthecamp.

Bis heute sind drei Flüchtlingslager auf dem griechischen Festland für eine 14-tägige Quarantäne gesperrt worden, da bei Bewohner*innen Covid-19 diagnostiziert wurde. Menschenrechtsaktivist*innen auf der ganzen Welt fordern #LeaveNoOneBehind, die Evakuierung der Lager und die Entlassung der Menschen aus der Haft. Es sind Rufe laut geworden, unbegleitete minderjährige Flüchtlinge aus Griechenland umzusiedeln, und die ersten 62 sind nach Luxemburg und Deutschland gereist.

Wir müssen unsere Stimmen auch für die Familien erheben, die zwischen zwei Ländern getrennt wurden, die Opfer von Grenzen und der restriktiven Migrationspolitik sind wie jene in Deutschland, dem Land, das seit mehr als zwei Jahren Anträge auf Familienzusammenführung systematisch und meist ohne Einzelfallprüfung ablehnt.

Starke Verzögerungen beim Zugang zu dringenden medizinischen Untersuchungen und den notwendigen Medikamenten, die Diagnostik, Therapie und falls nötig auch Operation für Krebspatient*innen zu gewährleisten, können Menschenleben kosten.

STOPPT DIE KÜRZUNGEN IM GESUNDHEITSWESEN!
GEBT DEN ARBEITERINNEN MEDIZINISCHER BERUFE DIE NOTWENDIGEN WERKZEUGE, UM LEBEN ZU RETTEN!
ZUGANG ZU KOSTENLOSER GESUNDHEITSVERSORGUNG FÜR ALLE!
LAGER SCHLIEßEN UND HÄUSER ÖFFNEN!
ALLE FAMILIEN GEHÖREN ZUSAMMEN!

“I see my boy growing, but only through the phone.”

A campaign to reunite families separated between Germany and Greece (4)

Small Mohammed* learned to ride a bicycle after his mother left Greece

A father with a 4-year-old boy in Greece – the wife / mother suffering cancer and going through chemotherapy alone in Germany 

This family belongs to Hamburg!

Fereshta* (37) married her husband Habib* (33) in Iran. She was born there as an Afghan refugee. Habib was born in Afghanistan but escaped with his family as a teenager. Life in Iran was hard. Most Afghan refugees in Iran have either temporary permission to stay, which can only be renewed upon payment of fees, or remain undocumented. While Fereshta had a six-month residence permit, her husband was without any documents and so was their child upon birth. After their marriage, Habib was arrested twice and deported back to Afghanistan, where he is in danger until today. 

In 2017 Fereshta fell ill. Her breast became more and more swollen and painful. She had no health insurance and so it took months until Habib could collect enough money to pay for the expensive examination at a local hospital. The diagnosis was bad. She had breast cancer. Desperate to save his wife, Habib worked every day and borrowed money to finance the chemotherapy she urgently needed. One day, on their way back from the hospital, the couple were controlled by police who wanted to arrest Habib and deport him once again. Fereshta cried and begged the officers to let him go because she was sick. The family had to bribe the Iranian police to escape.

After this incident, it was clear to Fereshta and Habib that they could no longer stay in Iran. They took their small child and fled. In the mountains at the border to Turkey the Iranian border police detected their group. They let the dogs loose on them. Fereshta and her family ran. She took the bag and her husband their child. The police shot. She can still hear the sound of the bullets. She remembers the stones and bushes they had to cross through in panic.

“Every moment I thought, this bullet will hit me. On our way to Europe there were many moments like this one, when I thought it was our last. In between there were the moments I felt the pain in my body so strong and I remembered the cancer.”

Seven times the family tried to cross to Greece. Every time the Turkish police would arrest and detain them. Fereshta remembers with terror a week they spent in Izmir detention centre.

“Upon arrival, we were all body searched. The officer was shocked when she touched my breast. It felt like a stone. We were three families in one cell. We could not go out. I had my painkillers in my bag but I was not allowed to take them. I was sitting awake all night suffering. After a week, they brought a doctor. Then we got released…”

On our final attempt to reach Greece, our boat almost sank. There was a hole in it. Water was entering. It was the beginning of winter 2018 and the weather was bad. In the last moment we were saved. They brought us to Moria camp. I told them about my sickness. The doctor who examined me also got scared when she felt the state of my breast. I was sent to hospital for examinations. We stayed in a container with three families – a total of eleven people in one room. Then the UNHCR sent us to Athens to live in a house.”

Two months after arriving to Greece, Fereshta was examined again, this time in Athens. Her chemotherapy started. But it did not have the expected effects. The mother felt very sick and radiotherapy had to be initiated.

“The doctors said I needed an operation. I would receive a call to know when my appointment was. No one called. Meanwhile my teeth were hurting me a lot. I asked for help. My days were marked by visits to the hospital. I had to go there many times without a translator. Sometimes I was sent away, because they couldn’t understand me. It was not easy.”

Habib was scared and felt helpless. He didn’t know if his wife was receiving the treatment she needed and if it was in time. He didn’t want to lose her. His friends all told him that it would be better to send her to Germany to be healed. What to do? There was not enough money to go together. They had spent everything they had for treatment and medication in Iran and then to reach Greece. On the other hand, he didn’t want to leave her alone. The parents decided together that there was no other solution. They had to do everything possible to make sure she had the best medical care.

In September 2019, after almost one year in Greece, Fereshta arrived in Germany. She was examined by specialists and within just a few weeks she had an operation. Even today she must continue to undergo chemotherapy. Her asylum application was accepted on humanitarian grounds with a deportation ban (Abschiebungsverbot). She is legally resident in Germany now, but she didn’t get an international protection status and thus can only apply for family reunification based on humanitarian grounds. 

For more than two years, Germany routinely rejects such family reunification applications if the family member in Germany has Abschiebungsverbot, typically arguing that the first instance asylum procedure has been concluded negatively. At the same time, Germany in the majority of cases of Afghan asylum seekers issues only this Abschiebungsverbot status. 

Fereshta and Habib struggle hard despite the little hope to find a solution to be together.

“My therapy plan is scheduled to go on until 2021. Every week I have chemotherapy. It is tough to bear it. The worst thing is that I am alone and that my child and my husband are far from me. Every day we talk on the phone. My boy cries. He asks me when he can come to me. He makes plans for that day. I see him growing, but only through the phone. He learnt to ride a bicycle since I last saw him. He wants me to buy him a bicycle when he comes to me in Germany. It is difficult to deal with this situation alone. I had many bad thoughts. Then I started visiting a psychologist. I take medication to sleep now.”

It is now three years that Fereshta’s husband Habib has had the pressure of finding a way for his wife to heal. Since they reached Greece he suffers from constant headaches.

“Now she is in good hands and has proper medical care but I am not by her side to support her. Our child misses her. He needs his mother. We both cannot sleep. I am thinking a lot. It’s the pressure of life. My sick wife is there, we are here. Our son doesn’t believe me anymore, when I tell him we will soon be with his mother. He has lost his trust in his father. I still try to give him hope.” 

A few hundred kilometres north from her husband and child, Fereshta tries not to lose hope as she struggles to survive.

“I wish to be healthy. I wish for my husband and my child to come here soon. I wish for us to have a peaceful and normal life together. I wish that no family in this world will get separated!”

* names changed

درخواست حمایت مادران کمپ مالاکاسا

Call for help from mothers in the quarantined Malakasa refugee camp

copyright: private

Hello from the (old) Malakasa refugee camp and our best wishes to all people outside,

We write this letter to ask you, the ones struggling to offer aid and assistance to people in need, to not leave us the people of Malakasa camp alone, especially during the COVID-19 quarantine!

It is very difficult to live a life in the Greek camps in general. We have many problems, but we will mention only a few of them, that are putting a lot of pressure on us now:

1. Lack of sufficient medical services inside the camp, specifically for those with Covid-19 symptoms and those with chronic and serious diseases or the mentally ill who need regular follow-ups and medication

2. Lack of sufficient medicine in the camp, for example: Depon, Amoxicillin, Paracetamol. During the quarantine we are not allowed outside. Most of the times also before the pandemic, we were told to buy our medicines ourselves. Most of us have no AMKA. Many faced problems already before the lock down as they lack money to buy anything still waiting for their Cash-Cards. Now, we cannot even go out to a pharmacy. We depend completely on what medicines we may be given by the camp doctors and these are highly limited! In the afternoons and weekends there is no doctor here anyway. We feel unarmed in this worldwide struggle for health. 

3. Lack of secured access to clean running water inside the camp and lack of drinking water. How can we follow the preventative measures explained to us if we have not even that?

4. Lack of safety and security for everyone in the camp, particularly at night. There are police outside the camp to hinder us from going outside, but inside we are left alone when no organization is present during the nights and weekends. We worry a lot for the safety of our children specifically! We are locked-up, peoples’ psychology has become worse and we don’t know who to address during an emergency. 

5. Lack of camp wide stable WIFI access (internet), so that people can be informed about the daily news, can contact the emergency number handed out by the camp management. We also need to keep up our contacts to the outside world and specifically to our families whom we worry about in these times as you worry for your beloved ones. 

6. Lack of access to ATMs and Western Union and shops. During quarantine they do not give us permission to exit the camp so the ones with Cash-Cards cannot withdraw money from banks any may lose the last charges and the others cannot receive money from relatives in other countries. Many of us are left without any cash. We also cannot purchase anything from the shops inside the camp. The shops have doubled their prices since the lockdown. 

7. Lack of vitamin food products and insufficient supply of basic food products. The food baskets we receive once a week do not contain fresh fruits and vegetables. We need vitamins for our kids, the elder and the sick at least to be healthy and strong and resist the virus. Also, we do not receive sufficient basic products such as oil, eggs and flour in order to secure sufficient meals.

8. Lack of masks, gloves and disinfection sprays. We were not handed any materials to protect ourselves from getting infected by the virus, while we are more than 1,800 persons locked up together and living side by side with an unknown number of infected. Among us are many highly vulnerable persons: elderly, kids, persons with Diabetes, heart disorders and other chronic diseases. We need masks and gloves or disinfection sprays – at least to protect the vulnerable among us. 

Those of us who live in tents face even more problems: 

9. Lack of adequate shelter. More than 400 people (among them many kids) sleep in summer tents and even if we assume that there is no other solution than these tents for newcomers, while the containers (prefabs) have exceeded their capacity, there is also no suitable place for these tents where they could be protected from the weather AND be in safe distance to each other. Even now during the pandemic, several people are sleeping in tents which are placed in a very close distance to each other inside a big tent and another building. Others have placed their tents under the sky and suffer from every rainfall and storm. We cannot practice social distancing here! We cannot protect ourselves from the cold like this! Many of us are sick and we cannot understand if we have a cold due to the bad living conditions or if we got infected by the virus. 

10. Lack of hot water in the commonly shared showers and water taps. How we should disinfect things like our plates or clothes without hot water? How should we use the soaps, when there are water cuts? How we should keep distance from each other when water taps are placed all together and next to each other?

11. Lack of clean and functioning toilets. The filthy toilets people without proper shelter have to share are a further source of infections. 

The reason why many of us are desperate to go out of the camp is because we need help. If we cannot keep our families safe, clean, healthy, protected from hunger, we struggle for more basic things than just against a virus. 

We ask you to stand in solidarity with us at least as long as we cannot go out and completely depend on what is given to us.

We urgently need the following items:

  • Masks (at least for the infected and the vulnerable)
  • Gloves or disinfection sprays 
  • Antipyretic medication for adults and kids such as Depon and Depon Syrup (for kids)
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (potatoes, onions, tomatoes mainly)
  • Oil, flour, eggs
  • Pampers and baby milk

Sincerely,

Mothers of Malakasa refugee camp

(21.04.2020 – after the extension of our quarantine and lock down that started on 5 April)

“We should be with him now, and he needs us too!”

A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece (3)

Zinab* and Ahmed in Greece speak with Farhad, who lies in hospital in Germany

A man separated from his wife and young child stuck in Greece – he is dying of cancer in Germany

This family belong to Aachen!

Zinab* came to Greece with her husband Farhad and son Ahmed who is 8 years old. Now Farhad is in Germany, separated from his wife and son and he is in the late stages of cancer, with only months to live.

The family are Kurdish, from Afrin (Syria). It was in Turkey that Farhad found out he was seriously ill with cancer. But because he is Kurdish, none of the hospitals in Turkey answered the family’s questions or cared for his wellbeing. The family were harassed regularly in Turkey only because they are Kurdish. It was not a safe place for them.

So, in March 2018 the family risked their lives to find safety in Europe and travelled by boat to the Greek island of Samos. They spent 40 days sleeping crowded together in a summer tent in the ‘hotspot’ Vathy on the island. Farhad was incredibly sick – vomiting and unable to eat. Due to the dire living conditions his situation worsened.

When the doctors examined him, they said he was dying. It was cold and raining and the ground was wet beneath them in the tent. Ahmed was begging his parents to leave Greece – he couldn’t use the toilets they were so dirty. There was no warm water to wash with. Farhad was suffering in pain and his family had only cold water to bathe him and cold earth to sleep on.

Because Farhad needed urgent medical attention, the family were transferred to a refugee camp on mainland Greece. Farhad was in the isolated camp almost one month still in severe pain.

Once in the mainland camp, Farhad’s pain did not cease. On three occasions an ambulance had to travel the long distance to the family’s camp because Farhad was in such pain. They injected him with pain killers. Eventually, he was taken to hospital, where he stayed for 2 months. Farhad had many tests and an emergency surgery that lasted eleven hours. Zinab was warned that he might not survive this. Zinab and Ahmed slept in the hospital for 4 days because the camp they were supposed to live in was over an hour away.

A few days before Farhad left hospital, Zinab and their child were moved to an apartment in Athens and Farhad was discharged there. He had to go to the hospital every week and was constantly taking medication. The family stayed around six months together in Athens but everyone, including Farhad’s doctors, said that he would have a better chance of survival if he was treated in Germany because they had a better equipped public health system and secured access to the necessary medicines there. Farhad said his Greek doctors treated him very well but he hoped he would have more chance to heal elsewhere and survive his dangerous sickness.

Throughout his time in Greece, Farhad was suffering, he had even thought of committing suicide to end the pain. It was an unbearable decision and a gruelling journey but in January 2019 Farhad travelled alone to Germany as the family had no possibility to go together. He went to Germany to get well and to struggle for his life and for his family.

The family had no idea that they would end up separated for such a long period. When they understood how difficult it was to be together again, they found a lawyer in Athens who is assisting with their case for family reunification through the German embassy. But over one year later, the family remain apart. It is difficult to get essential documents from Syria because of the war and Farhad does not have long to live. 

The family video call almost every day but it is a cruel replacement for life together, especially when little time is left. In his waking hours Ahmed talks of his father – he tells his friends at school he will go soon to be with his father in Germany, he asks his mother when he will be able to kiss his dad again, or walk with him the streets. While asleep, Ahmed dreams of Farhad.

Zinab also cannot bear life without her husband beside her. She fears that nobody is there to do the simple things for him, to talk with him, give him a glass of water.

In the last weeks, Farhad has had multiple operations. Little Ahmed cries for days on end, he says he wants to see his father, he wants his family to be together. Zinab tries to be strong but she also cries often.

“We should be with him now, and he needs us too!”

Zinab

* names changed

Some facts about obstacles that cancer patients in Greece face

For many years, all cancer patients in Greece face huge obstacles to obtain timely access to necessary diagnostics, examinations and treatments. Austerity measures have hit the public health system hard since the start of the debt crisis in Greece in 2009. Cancer patients are among the ones who suffer most.

Funding for state-run hospitals was cut by more than 50% in the last decade. They suffer from severe shortages in everything, from sheets, gauzes and syringes, to doctors and nurses. The patients who can afford it, thus often turn to private health care. The others struggle.

A new study titled “A New National Health System” commissioned by Dianeosis, found out that Greece nowadays spends only 5 percent of its gross domestic product on public healthcare versus the European Union (EU) average of 7 percent.

“The minimum safe limit for every health system, as we have repeatedly stressed, is 6 percent of GDP.” 

Panhellenic Medical Association 2019

The authors of the study ascribe the healthcare crisis in Greece to cuts to funding, under-staffing and mismanagement—the source of which is linked to a decade of austerity measures. As one consequence, the young generation of Greek doctors was forced to emigrate in search for jobs. It is estimated, that more than 15,000 doctors left the country, mainly for the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Sweden.

The difficulties of accessing and using health services in Greece have grown particularly for those who need them most, thus jeopardising the element of equality and social justice. More than that, the study found, that today one in five Greek people are unable to pay for health services when they need it; one in three cancer patients are unable to see their doctor regularly while one in four have difficulties obtaining the medicine they need.

Access to necessary medication is a big problematic with possibly fatal consequences. Cancer drugs are vital, but often inaccessible. In February 2020, the Pharmaceutical Association of Athens denounced the severe lack of specialised medicaments in Greece, amongst others drugs used to control the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients, but also for the chemotherapy itself. The Hellenic Cancer Federation (ELLOK) taking action, appealed on 22.1.2020 to the Ministry of Health to take action in order to normalise the disposal of medicines. Deficiency of basic antineoplastic drugs for cancer patients, according to the Federation, means serious delays and cancellations of chemotherapy that have led patients and doctors to despair. 

Many medicaments reach Greece but are then traded to other countries such as Germany who pay higher prices. Then there are medicines that are essential but so cheap that no company will import them to Greece. These should be covered by emergency imports, but the government agency responsible has no funds to pay for them and has stopped placing orders. At the same time, Greek commercial pharmacies are owed by the government, according to the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association (PFS), so many request payment for medication from patients up front.

“It is one thing to ask a patient to bring his own blanket to the hospital. And quite another to deny him a drug that means the difference between life and death.”

Persefoni Mitta, head of the Association of Cancer Patients in Macedonia and Thrace

During the Covid-19 pandemic things have got even harder. Today, the main problem faced is the long waiting lists for radiotherapy and surgeries. Zoe Grammatoglou, from the Association of Cancer Patients, volunteers, friends, and doctors in Athens, explains:

“In Attika Hospital in Athens the average waiting time for radiotherapy is currently 3-4 months. These delays existed also prior to the Covid-19 pandemic due to lack of staff in the hospitals. The average waiting time for surgeries is currently about one month. All appointments have been further delayed in public hospitals. It is very important to add, that in Greece there are no hospices for the care of persons in the last cancer stadium.”

Zoe Grammatoglou (13.04.2020)

In the case of refugees and migrants, there are even greater obstacles to access free medical care, especially since July 2019 when the right wing New Democracy party was elected. The new government refused to ascribe the Social Insurance Numbers (AMKA) to third country nationals. Medicines sans Frontiers (MSF) estimated in the beginning of this year that 55,000 protection seekers had remained without access to public health care, and specifically denounced the devastating situation for seriously sick children in the ‘hotspot’ of Moria.

“We see many children suffering from medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, who are forced to live in tents, in abysmal, unhygienic conditions, with no access to the specialised medical care and medication they need.”

Dr Hilde Vochten, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece

Only this month (April 2020) is a parallel system called PAAYPA supposed to function in which asylum seekers should be ascribed a temporary Social Insurance Number. It was announced that the system would start from 15 April onward but is not yet working as promised. 

Covid-19 has presented further barriers to healthcare as protection seekers reaching Greece must first register their claim for asylum in order to regularise their stay, and only then will they be eligible for a PAAYPA number. As the Greek Asylum Service has been closed since 13 March and will remain closed until at least 15th May, people seeking protection are unable to claim asylum. Therefore people with chronic and serious diseases may have to wait for months until they can access necessary healthcare. Until then, only emergency care is available.

Furthermore, for as long as protection seekers cannot claim asylum, they cannot access the cash allowance for asylum seekers, which means that they have to pay for all medicines themselves.

Protection seekers arriving from the land border in Evros region face a systematic lack of reception conditions as their asylum claims are usually not registered in the Reception and Identification centre (RIC) of Fylakio. Upon release they reach Thessaloniki or Athens themselves staying most of the times for weeks or months homeless.

At the same time, protection seekers arriving on the Aegean Islands are stuck among thousands of others in the infamous ‘hotspot’ camps of Moria (Lesvos), Vathy (Samos), Vial (Chios), on Leros and Kos living in highly precarious conditions in tents or overcrowded containers. Since recent changes in law, newcomers after March 2020 are regularly detained and face even greater gaps when it comes to accessing the public health care system.

UNHCR Greece highlighted the problems in Moria ‘hotspot’ recently:

“Abdul, 67, sitting on a stool outside his tent. In Afghanistan, Abdul had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Abdul said he had been treated with nothing more than paracetamol since arriving in the camp. Medical workers at Moria and the local hospital are overwhelmed. NGO and volunteer doctors work around the clock. Even so, often they can only attend to the most urgent emergency cases and even serious chronic conditions are left untreated.”

UNHCR, 21 February 2020

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Greece has declared a nationwide lockdown from 23 March 2020. Meanwhile asylum seekers and refugees cannot #stayathome but have to #stayinthecamp. Until today, three refugee camps on mainland Greece have been locked down for a 14-day-quarantine as residents were diagnosed with Covid-19. Human rights activists all over the world demand that we #leavenoonebehind and evacuate Greek refugee camps and release people from detention. Calls have grown loud to relocate unaccompanied minor refugees from Greece and the first 62 have travelled to Luxembourg and Germany.

We must also raise our voices for the families who have been separated between two countries, who are victims of borders and restrictive migration policies such as the ones of Germany, who is systematically rejecting family reunification requests for more than two years.

Severe delays in accessing the urgent examinations and the necessary medicines, in order to provide for the medical diagnostics and adequate therapy/surgery for cancer patients can cost human lives.

STOP CUTS IN PUBLIC HEALTH CARE!

PROVIDE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WITH ALL THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO SAVE LIVES!

ACCESS TO FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!

CLOSE THE CAMPS AND OPEN HOMES!

REUNITE ALL FAMILIES!

The infomobile

... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

Get in touch

email: infomobile.w2eu@gmail.com

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