Call for Solidarity from Mytilini, Lesvos: New arrivals of refugees / PIKPA opened


Since yesterday (28.11.12) the civil society has managed to temporarily win the struggle for an open first reception centre with the authorities agreeing to transfer all the unregistered to PIKPA – a place also used once before during noborder Lesvos 2009 for the same purpose. About 70 refugees – among them pregnant women, small children and even a 10-day-old baby. Immediately both police and citizens started bringing even a few more freshly arrived. PIKPA is a summer camp construction, which is now not in a condition to be inhabited, thus, the local population together with the refugees try to make it more comfortable, to re-store the water connections etc. and to bring food for the persons hosted there. This ad hoc solution still needs a lot of support in order to become an official open reception centre, now still being a temporary solution.
There is a great need of support of any kind!

Foto: K. Koukoulis


Since August 2012, Lesvos has again become one of the main arrival points into Europe for refugees coming from Turkey. Just before, the government had closed the land border in Evros as part of operation “Xenios Zeus”, involving 1.800 additional officers, only to notice that people were resorting to the dangerous sea crossings. Despite the efforts of Frontex and the Greek coastguard to stop the rubber boats, dozens of people still risk their lives and arrive on the Aegean islands. Most of them come from the war zones of Syria and Afghanistan. The local authorities are unprepared, the police cells are crowded and the former detention centre Pagani – well known all over Europe for its inhuman conditions – has been closed since 2009…
Despite all this, the government has given orders to detain refugees for as long as possible. The Lesvos police have now refused to register new arrivals, while refugees are forced to wait out in the open in increasingly poor weather – without any protection, food, clothing or access to asylum.

Mytilini, 28.11.12

Less than a week ago, a group of refugees were subjected to a racist attack in Mytilini on the island of Lesvos. The victim was a pregnant woman. Every day, the situation worsens for these people who are gathering in parks and public places, after having desperately tried to get arrested by the police. They say that at the police station they were simply turned away and told to come back in a week’s time. We can imagine how desperate people must be if they beg to be arrested and detained under inhumane conditions, hoping to be given a temporary permit, which allows them to leave the island.

Two days ago, dozens of refugees – mostly from Syria and Afghanistan and among them small children and a pregnant woman – have found temporary shelter in a park in the centre of town. They were soon supported by locals, who realized that the refugees needed protection from both the cold weather and racist attacks. The danger became real when the local chief of the fascist “Golden Dawn” party arrived. The local population have continued to show solidarity, which shows the need for a solution to accommodate these people.

However, a solution can not be a new detention centre – the former detention centre Pagani which was closed due to rioting inmates and solidarity demonstrations in 2009, is still talked about all over Europe.
The open show of solidarity by the people of Mytilini proves that it is theses solidarity networks who effectively protect refugees and migrants and who stand up against fascism.
The city must now provide a suitable accommodation, which is accessible by collectives and civil society.

Foto: K. Koukoulis

At the same time, the police must implement a system of quick registration and issue of temporary papers for these people who simply want to leave the island. We must realize that the flow of migrants will not stop because we detain them and they become more and more destitute because our entire society will become more destitute. Detention will not stop anyone who is running for their lives.
In a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude, a solution can only be achieved by participation of the local society and with international solidarity.


For any form of solidarity or more information please contact:

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.

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