Moria / Lesbos: “Hot Spot” reminds of war zone

++Refugees left to survive in Moria under inhuman conditions++Vulnerable groups unprotected for days in war zone like areal++

This child doesn't stop crying as it is exhausted and afraid / copyright: Salinia Stroux

This child doesn’t stop crying as it is exhausted and afraid / copyright: Salinia Stroux

2,500 persons can be registered daily in Moria according to local media, while more than 10,000 arrived within the last 24 hours. Refugees are queueing kilometers in and outside the registration camp that was originally constructed as a prison. At the same time the registration camp lacks any form of a functioning queuing system as well as dignified infrastructures and basic needs provision. Refugees are sitting and sleeping for hours between mud and garbage, being pushed by the crowd, insulted and beaten by police forces and sometimes even thrown tear gas. They get sick and injured under the life threatening living conditions in Moria.

“I am queueing since 10 days!,” a Syrian man says. “I am single, but my family is left in Syria and I have to get them out to save their lives. I am very anxious. In this camp the is no human rights. It is zero zero.”

Women sleeping in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Women sleeping in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Next to him stands a young compatriot holding a 6 weeks old baby in his arms. He is showing to his wife who is lying outside next to the huge UNHCR tent on the floor. She is sharing a blanket with another woman. “We don’t have even a blanket. The tents are all full. We got our documents but we have to wait for my brother to get registered. He is still in the queue,” G. tells us.

The family queue during day / copyright: Salinia Stroux

The family queue during day / copyright: Salinia Stroux

One woman from Syria faints as the asthmatic woman can not hold on in the pushing crowds while tear gas is thrown. She had begged an officer to provide her prioritized access because of her breathing problems, but he just denied. She first had to break down in order to be allowed to enter. Another Syrian woman suffered great loss due to queueing in the crowd. The pregnant woman got pushed around so hardly that she finally had to be transferred to hospital and lost her child.

This old women has nothing warm and no blanket / copyright: Salinia Stroux

This old women has nothing warm and no blanket / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Specifically on the Non-Syrian side access to basic needs has been cut, as they are not allowed to enter Moria in contradiction to the Syrians. Also here there are dozens of pregnant woman every day in the lines waiting for 1-3 days without access to toilets, washing facilities or dry clothes. There is no access to drinking water or food secured. Many children suffer from gastriteritis and colds as they sleep for days outside without any protection and any access to sanitary infrastructures. The most needed medicines are basic supplies: water and food, shelter and clothes.

Pregnant woman, handicapped, babies, elderly, unaccompanied minors, victims of torture, physically and mentally sick alike have no prioritized access. There is no one even talking to them before they wouldn’t enter Moria however days it can last.

Drying clothes over a fire at the end of the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Drying clothes over a fire at the end of the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Z. from Afghanistan is only 19 years. She was 2 months pregnant when she arrived in Moria. Now she is not pregnant anymore. “We arrived in the early morning on the island. I was told there was no space in the bus for me as I had no children. I was told to walk with the single men. So we walked for hours together with my husband. When we arrived in the afternoon in the camp I started having pains. I tried desperately to convince queueing people to let me pass through to the front of the line and ask for prioritized access. They wouldn’t believe I really had a problem. After some more hours I started bleeding strongly.” The young woman cries. She had a miscarriage. There is not even a fresh trouser for her.

Child sleeping near the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Child sleeping near the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

An Iraqi woman stands in the front of the queue pressing herself to the gate while holding one of her three children with her last energy tight in her arms. It is the third day of the small family in the line. The woman’s face is pale. She is bleeding strongly the last days, but she has no sanitary napkin.

A sick woman fainted in the queue waiting for an ambulance / copyright: Salinia Stroux

A sick woman fainted in the queue waiting for an ambulance / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Mohammed, a handicapped Iraqi with crutches sits nearby in the mud. The silent man with glasses is still shocked. He arrived today. “I have injuries from shooting of Al Qaida members from 2006. My knee and my shoulder still pain. I cannot walk easily and I definitely cannot stand long. While I was queueing to register chaos broke out and police officers in blue uniforms attacked us. First one officer beat with his baton on my knee and on my shoulder. Another one hit me with punches. I fell down. They hit me also on my glasses.” He starts crying. “There is no humanity here. We escaped from war. …” He cannot continue talking.

A buggy parked on an olive tree field / copyright: Salinia Stroux

A buggy parked on an olive tree field / copyright: Salinia Stroux

“The borders of Europe are now in the registration center in Moria, Lesbos,” said Italian Parliamentarian and rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Andrea Riggoni, who had also visited the island for the inauguration of the Hot Spot in Moria on Friday October 15, 2015.

Hundreds of refugees sleep overland in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hundreds of refugees sleep overland in the queue / copyright: Salinia Stroux

In the meantime the Non-Syrian family queue has become endless. In the night one can see one fire after the other. At the end of the queue are the new arrivals, the wet ones. They lack blankets and dry clothes. In the dawn slowly one can recognize body after body sleeping in the queue. As soon as the queue moves a few meters on, everyone stands up and families are pulling the plastic nets on which they sleep with all the belongings to their next step. The first ones in the queue are already three to four days in the line.
In the night one can understand the real length of the queue only by the fires / copyright: Salinia Stroux

In the night one can understand the real length of the queue only by the fires / copyright: Salinia Stroux

A young woman is heading towards the olive fields: “We try to hold our need to use a bathroom for many hours in order to avoid it. There are no toilettes accessible to us. We have to go in the fields. For us women that is very difficult. We have to walk very far to reach a place where no one else is.” She laughs shyly. “I haven’t eaten anything since one day. I haven’t drank water. I have stopped sleeping. I just want to reach the camp and get my documents. Nothing else matters now.”

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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