Moria / Lesbos: Chaotic registration queues leave refugees in future Hot Spot under inhumane conditions for hours

++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

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

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.

No identification of vulnerable groups is in process, neither prioritized access / copyright: Salinia Stroux

No identification of vulnerable groups is in process, neither prioritized access / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Mister Jafar has arrived to Lesbos on Tuesday with his whole family. They are 11 persons, children and adults. He reached Moria at 20:00 o’clock. “It is crucial that we could leave all together. How horrible is it to leave your beloved behind if their lives are in danger?” He is standing next to the queue for Non-Syrian families. With severe pain in his legs that draw back to an accident and multiple bone fractures the tall man with the crutches is not able to hold up against the pushing people in the row. The women, teenagers and children of his family sleep aside in a field of olive trees which is strewn with garbage. Every here and there small groups of people have lit fires sitting nearby to warm themselves.
The families queue is located in a dusty road full of mud and water / copyright: Salinia Stroux

The families queue is located in a dusty road full of mud and water / copyright: Salinia Stroux

In the dark one can see on the second sight bodies of the sleeping crunched in thin clothes, seldom in blankets or sleeping bags. Mr. Jafar watches the family line moving back and forth. Newcomers are pushing from the back and the side. Every now and then one can here shouting voices as small arguments raise out of the anxious cloud. The queue of the single men among which one can identify easily many underage boys, reaches half way down the hill. Upwards along the family queue women and men are standing in the mud as water continiously rinses from a water tap a few meters away. A young Afghan man is organizing both lines almost by himself. He is very busy. With a polite smile or in exchange a serious look he controls hundreds of people almost without shouting. Along the family queue he has constructed a human chain to control the crowd. “My wife is also in this queue.
Refugees sleep in the olive field nearby / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Refugees sleep in the olive field nearby / copyright: Salinia Stroux

There are about 70 meters left between her and the gate. As long as we are outside I will help out here. And I really hope someone will take over as soon as I have to get in for registration.” He smiles. “You know what my profession is? I am a satellite engineer. I was organizing the queues in the ISAF camp in Afghanistan.
Hours without access to anything... / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hours without access to anything… / copyright: Salinia Stroux

300 different nationalities of people. I know how to deal with people.” He has rolled up his sleeves as he seems feeling hot while constantly moving back and forth between the lines. Near the fence an old lady is sitting on a narrow stripe of dry earth waiting aside the queue. She is feeling cold. Suddenly her son appears. The ineloquent man lifts her slowly up and guides her over into the queue. She sits now on the dry cement floor leaning on the fence of the gate. There are dozens of mothers waiting aside the queue and sitting with their babies in their arms on the floor. “Do you have something to eat? Do you have some water?” Two or three ask.

Tonight no one has a tent. The people are not allowed to pass into Moria as long as they aren’t registered. The single men will not get the permission at all. The tents inside the camp are long full with Syrian families. They can’t cover the needs of all.

Refugees have endured all night in and next to the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Refugees have endured all night in and next to the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

The next day – Wednesday – at 1pm Mr. Jafar finally gets out of the registration with his freshly printed documents. “We waited all night long. I didn’t close my eyes even for a minute.” He still seems better today. Many families of the night before are around. They all spent the night outside without access to toilettes, tents or food.

Alina and Nabila hope to get reunited with their parents as soon as possible / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Alina and Nabila hope to get reunited with their parents as soon as possible / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Some meters away three other families sit on the earth. A 12-year-old with her sister come over. “I am alone with my sister,” the younger says. “We came with our auntie, because our parents were deported on the border between Iran and Afghanistan. We had to escape from the border guards as they are shooting. It is very dangerous. I cried a lot.” The two girls are well protected with the family of their aunt, but they are desperately thinking about ways to bring their parents and siblings as soon as possible. “My father is almost blind. We have lost all our money. They will not be able to start this journey again. We have to find a way to bring them legally.”

Uncle and nephew separated by law / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Uncle and nephew separated by law / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Meanwhile near the registration tract of the Syrians outside of the First Reception Centers gates a man is communicating through the fence to his nephew. Authorities separated them as according to the law only parents are recognized as legal guardians. The two desperately try to plan how to find each other again after the uncertain period of about two weeks when the minor will be transferred to an open reception centre. Registration procedures changed within the last days and an increasing number of unaccompanied minors gets identified, dozens get separated from their relatives as they do not travel with their core families.

The queue is not moving for hours ( copyright: Salinia Stroux

The queue is not moving for hours ( copyright: Salinia Stroux

It is Thursday morning. Kara Tepe camp gets successively more crowded. Hundreds of newly arriving Syrians are waiting for their transfer to Moria in order to get registered. The registration system is encountering again problems. Busses stop for hours transporting refugees to the registration camp. In the night the queue of the Non-Syrians on the backside of Moria has grown. Single men now stand in a line almost all the street down. Upwards the queue of the families leads along the dusty road deep into the fields. Many young men gave up and sit in the olive fields around fires to warm themselves. Some try to register since two days. The families in front of the line say they wait since the morning at 4am when they arrived in Moria. Others say they are queueing since more than one day. “We had reached the front of the line when chaos broke out suddenly and we ended up again in the end of the queue. Our son is 1 month old. He is feverish. We didn’t sleep since several days.
Hundreds of unregistered sleep in the fields / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hundreds of unregistered sleep in the fields / copyright: Salinia Stroux

My wife had a cesarean. She cannot stand the cold. I am afraid she will faint.” Dozens of parents with babies not older than 6 months are stand in the queue that goes 200 meters far. Some babies are dressed in wet clothes. “My daughter fell in the sea twice. We urgently need something dry to put on her. She will get sick! We also do not have anything to feed her. My wife has no mother milk.” Every very now and then along the queue refugee have lit fires along the queue. They are holding their wet clothes over it to dry them. Refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Eritrea queue here tonight. A young mother is holding her babies pampers over a fire. “We fell in the sea. Our bags fell in the sea. Everything is wet. We are wet.”

Families sleep in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Families sleep in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Around 5am registration seems to have halted. In the mens queue most people are sitting aside the road trying to sleep a few minutes. They sit near by each other, the heads resting on their arms while one is trying to warm the other. The whole road uphill is covered with bodies of the sleeping and waiting. In the very end of the family queue is a fire. Next to it there sits a family with a 2 months old baby. “When will they re-start registration they ask? We are cold. We are hungry. There is not even a toilette we can use,” the father says.

The "waiting area" for the Non-Syrians at Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux

The “waiting area” for the Non-Syrians at Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hundreds of refugees are all over the area, fires and smoke mark the territory which is covered by garbage. Completely wet clothes are hanging over the fences trying to dry. Around 6am the police shift changes. With the arrival of the officers all the people wake up. Suddenly the whole line is moving. People stand up in hope to finally move on for some meters, to get some meters closer to the documents that will allow them to leave, but also to access toilettes, tents and doctors provided only for people inside the camp.

all photos copyright: Salinia Stroux

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

RSS Clandestina

  • Thessaloniki No Border Camp 2016
    Clandestina participates in the preparation of Thessaloniki 2016 No Border Camp. For more info and to read news on Migration & Struggle in Greece, visit: http://noborder2016.espivblogs.net

RSS Group of Lawyers – Athens

  • COMUNICATO STAMPA - Solidarietà al giornalista italiano Gabriele Del Grande
    Solidarietà al giornalista italiano Gabriele Del Grande  Il 9 aprile 2017 le autorità turche hanno arrestato illegalmente e senza alcun motivo il giornalista italiano Gabriele Del Grande nella città turca di Hatay, dove stava svolgendo un’inchiesta per il suo nuovo libro “Un partigiano mi disse”. È evidente che l’attività giornalistica del 35enne Gabriele Del Grande, […]

RSS the border is the problem