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Hunger Strike in Elliniko Camp

On 5th February 2017, most of the adults among the 711 refugees residing in a state-run Camp in the former Athens National Airport (Camp Elliniko II), in the majority coming from Afghanistan, started a hunger strike to protest against their degrading living conditions demanding for their transfer to homes, papers and freedom of movement for all. As reported by one of the refugees, it is very likely that residents of the two other camps in Elliniko (the nearby Olympic baseball and a hockey stadiums) might join in the protest tomorrow.

Hunger strike starts in Elliniko Camp

Among the 1,600 refugees living in the three camps of Elliniko there are some who are there already since one year. Elliniko Camp was opened already back in autoumn 2015, in a period where thousands were arriving to Greece and many stayed homeless in the parks and squares of Athens. Planned as a temporary solution to ‘clear’ the capitals’ streets from the many homeless and repeatedly announced to be closed as belonging to one of the most infamous camps in Greece, it still stayed open until today, but always portrayed as ‘provisory’ under the UNHCR-category ‘informal site’.
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Refugees on hunger strike

In Samos hot spot and corinth pre-removal detention center refugees are protesting devastating living conditions and lacking access to asylum procedures as well as long waiting periods.

copyright: Hessam Ghafelpour

On 31st January refugee from Iran and Afghanistan in the hot spot in Samos started a hunger strike protesting against the long lasting asylum procedures, inhuman detention conditions and the restriction of their freedom. On the second day, one of the strikers

watch the strike here

copyright: Generation outside of Afghanistan

Yesterday detained refugees in Corinth pre-removal detention centre denied to eat lunch and dinner in protest against the bad detention conditions and lack of access to the asylum procedure. According to refugees, some of the detainees have been more than six months in detention. They suffer from bad food and the lack of warm water amongst others. Mainly people from Pakistan and Algeria are detained in Corinth these days. The refugees on hunger strike demand first of all their freedom.

interview from Corinth

Death in Greek Camps

Five refugees dead in Greek camps since last week due to inadequate reception conditions. Several others tried to commit suicide. Does life still matter in Europe?

– On Monday 30th of January a 20-year-old refugee from Pakistan died in Moria Hot Spot.

– On Saturday 28th of January a 46-year-old Syrian passed away in Moria Hot Spot detention centre reportedly from hypothermia. He was staying in the same tent as another man who died only four days ago.

– Meanwhile the same day in Ritsona camp in mainland Greece a two-months-old baby was transferred to hospital in Chalkida due to a cystic fibrosis and later on passed away in the ambulance which was taking it to Athens. While the parents had to deal with tremendous problems in finding help for their sick child since it was born, and were under shock of its sudden death authorities and media chose to accuse them for minor neglect and bring them to the local police station. Read here: Announcement of the solidarity group in Chalkida

– On Wednesday 25th of January a 42-year-old refugee named Benjo Massoud, father of three children, passed away in the overcrowded Hot Spot on Samos Island. According to Greek media the Kurdish refugee from Iraq had visited on Wednesday morning the camp doctor suffering reportedly from pain in the chest. He reported to have Diabetes and blood high pressure. A cardiogram was made and he got referred immediately to the hospital of the island, where he died while waiting to be examined. An employee of the camp said that the refugee had received already some days ago a letter of a doctor asking for heart exams in the hospital of the island. Despite this fact, he remained in his tent with his family the days that was very cold. Few days ago he had found by himself an empty container and settled in it together with his family. When he informed the camp managers, they just registered the transfer to the prefabricated house. The refugee had arrived on December 7th and went through first reception procedures without anyone noticing any heart problem. Already back in October Medicines Sans Frontiers reported the inadequacy of the system to screen new arrivals for vulnerability in the Hot Spots of the Aegean.

-One day before, on Tuesday the 24th, a 21-year-old Egyptian refugee was found dead in his tent by a friend in the Hot Spot in Moria on Lesbos Island. The cause of his death is still unknown. While reportedly his death was caused by the kerosine heaters’ gas he had inhaled while trying to keep himself warm.

– These were not the first refugee deaths of this winter in Moria. At the end of November 2016 a a 60-year-old woman and her 5-year-old grandchild died in a fire inside their tent while the woman was cooking dinner.
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w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!

‘One step forward, hundreds back…’ seems to be the motto under which EU experts implement refugee policy, as currently also demonstrated in Greece. On 8 December 2015, the European Commission published its fourth recommendation on the resumption of Dublin Returns to Greece, this time stating that they could be gradually re-installed, as according to them, refugee rights would be adequately protected in Greece. At the same time, images of people who fled war and are now staying in tents covered in snow are spreading through the global media. Once more, the EU is using Greece to make a point: Dublin has to survive, not matter what, that’s the plan. But in reality, this failed plan has significant consequences, causing one more massive human tragedy in Europe for thousands of people who are escaping war, conflict, disaster, hunger and poverty.

Refugees are exposed to snow and rain while forced to stay in tents and unheated prefabricated houses, some of which are old and have broken doors and windows. Over the last days awful pictures from the “Hotspot” detention-camp in Moria on Lesvos have travelled around the world. This time, small tents, not even sufficient for a short summer rain, were collapsing under the pressure of snow and the heavy rains. These pictures where taken by the inhabitants themselves, only a few days after the Greek Deputy Minister of Migration Ioannis Mouzalas had proudly announced that now most refugees would not have to live in tents any more. But refugees and solidarity people alike rose in anger immediately posting photos and videos from camps all around Greece on the internet, demonstrating the opposite. The ‘Winterization’ project failed, during a time when the EU is asserting that Greece is now a safe place for refugees, able to offer adequate living conditions and proper access to asylum procedures.

Greece is not a safe country for refugees. Refugees stuck in Greece are suffering in the inhuman and inadequate living conditions in detention centres and mass camps despite the presence of the UNHCR and numerous international and national NGOs. Refugees lack basic legal rights, access to information and legal aid. They have endured months without access to asylum procedures. They have spent months fighting for their right to stay in Greece while the feasibility of their deportation to Turkey is being examined by the EU’s so-called asylum experts. Hundreds were returned without proper access to legal aid for an appeal against the return decision, without a proper examination of their individual persecution in Turkey, without their asylum claim being heard, without a proper examination of their vulnerability, which should exclude them from any deportation procedure. Their lives have been put on hold on the islands of the Aegean and on the mainland by long-lasting procedures of pre-registration and registration. Access to the asylum procedure is yet not secured as the blocked Skype calls to authorities remain the only way to make an appointment, while thousands of families are separated and have to wait to reunite for almost one year.

Even Greeks are escaping Greece. And so are recognized refugees as there is no welfare system and no labour market, which could offer on the prospect of a dignified life. Even survival is not secured upon receiving the right to stay in Greece as those recognized are excluded even from state housing for refugees and from most of the social support structures offered by NGOs. May we remind you that Greece is suffering for years from a massive economic crisis and all people living here have to cope with the devastating austerity measures forced upon them by the Troika, by our European governments and institutions.

We strongly denounce the EU’s dirty game! The Hotspots are detention centres at the external borders of Europe, meant to select and sort human beings into ‘deportable’ or ‘not-deportable’, ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’, ‘useless’ or ‘useful’, ‘unwanted’ or ‘wanted’. EASO experts are those who carry out the selection. Frontex is not only the key-institution pursuing militarised controls and the deterrence of “refugee flows” at sea, but also responsible for deportations from the Aegean islands back to Turkey. The Dublin Regulation is a mechanism aimed to keep all refugees at the external borders of the EU. Relocation has failed with only 6,212 persons out of 66,400 successfully moving to other EU-states until the beginning of January 2016 – within the first year of a two-year implementation period. ‘Voluntary’ return is for most people the last choice, and a decision followed the suffering of massive deterrence policies, such as enduring for a year a life in a tent at the rims of Greek society. Refugees give up, finally, preferring to “die at once, than every second again and again” – a sentence that is heard over and over again by refugees in the Greek camps. The cruelty of deportations to Afghanistan is obvious, when we see how European citizens are advised not to go there due to concerns for their safety. Nevertheless, and ironically, the life-threatening situation in Afghanistan is swiftly forgotten when it comes to the granting of asylum to Afghan refugees. The EU-Turkey Deal is nothing more than the result of the blackmailing strategies of a dictator, using Europe’s desire to keep refugees out as leverage.

But Dublin will fall again! Deportations to Greece were already once stopped back in 2011 following the decision of the European Human Rights Court in the case ‘MSS v. Greece’ – and as a result of a long struggle during which many, many refugees escaped from Greece, were deported and escaped again. Some had to flee through Europe 5-6 times. But finally it was over, they succeeded often, and stayed.
Dublin Returns to Greece will be strongly contested in national and international courts again now. As we have seen, the Dublin-regulation has been overrun many times before by the struggles for freedom of movement of individuals and groups.
Mouzalas had to correct himself. We politely suggest the European Commission to do the same.

Refugees are no numbers on a tent, no fingerprints, but people with faces, names and stories!

The Dublin Regulation has to be abolished now.
Human rights violations have to end now.
People have to join their families now.
People have to be in safety and in dignified conditions now.

We therefore demand:

Equal rights for all!
Freedom of movement to all refugees in Greece and elsewhere!
The right to stay for all!
Stop deportations!

No one is illegal!

w2eu – a network born out of the struggle against Dublin returns in 2009

Paralysed and stored at the margins: Refugees in Greece forced to survive snow and cold

Moria Camp / Stratis Balaksas EPA

Moria Camp / Stratis Balaksas EPA

Following the closure of the Balkan-Route on March 2016 thousands of refugees who had been waiting for months in the tents in Idomeni were transferred and ‘parked’ in mass camps in northern Greece, in Greater Athens area and other parts of mainland Greece. Although they promised them better conditions than in the jungle of Idomeni or the informal tent camp in Piraeus Port, as well as quick legal transfers to other European countries, many of them still wait until today under devastating conditions. It is winter, and still hundreds live in tents or without heating while struggling with snow, heavy rains and strong winds. Most of them have some of their relatives waiting for them in other EU-countries and the other half remaining back home in war trying to survive. Meanwhile the EU tries to invest just as much in the improvements of refugees’ living conditions and asylum procedures in Greece as needed to re-establish Dublin returns to Greece as announced for 15. March 2017. It is the same infamous mass camps, which refugees are trying to survive now, where Europe seemingly plans to send Dublin returnees. A closer look shows the enormous tragedy resulting from this cynical plan to keep refugees stored at Europe’s inner borders unsafe, under devastating conditions and far from their relatives.

no shoes

no shoes

Imprisoned in camps that are located in abandoned industrial sites and military camps, forced to live far from local society, exposed to inadequate and undignified housing and harsh weather conditions, the currently 62.000 refugees living in Greece escaped war and conflict, hunger and poverty in order to end up in Europe without safety and without dignity, without sufficient food, without heating, without any hope to find a job and create a new life. They got stuck in limbo when the Balkan corridor was closed in March 8th 2016 and mainstream politics were transformed back from a short upsurge of a “welcome” trend to the old “closed borders” attitude confronted with the massive militarization of borders. In the Hot Spots on the islands of the Aegean and the mass camps on the mainland, these refugees since early 2016 get managed by the army, government officials, the UNHCR and international NGOs as a faceless mass identified by a number on a tent or a container and sorted by nationalities, and into the groups of ‘deportable’ and ‘non-deportable’, ‘undocumented’ and ‘documented’.
Continue reading ‘Paralysed and stored at the margins: Refugees in Greece forced to survive snow and cold’

Happy Birthday City Plaza Squat!

6 months – more than 1,000 refugees hosted

A booklet with memories, thoughts and feelings of the ones who were there from the very first day and who stayed until today.

City Plaza 6 months Birthday

126-year old woman arrived on Lesvos – fleeing to join her children and grandchildren in Germany

126years-2Photos by Marios Lolos

Eida was born 1890, she is Syrian and all her children and grandchildren are in Germany. When they left she didn’t want to go and was taken care by a family in Kobane. When the family decided to go also Eida had no one anymore and decided to follow. After many adventures they arrived in Lesvos and stayed for 1 month in Moria Hotspot without any NGO organizing housing or care for the 126 year old lady. After they finally got their papers they travelled all together to Athens and went to a hotel. The wife and mother of the 4 small kids is giving birth these days and the Noborders Athens group supports the family and asks for financial support to manage to house this unbelievable travel group. Again it is activists that manage to show respect to fleeing people. One of the oldest women in this world fleeing, we all have to support her now! Continue reading ‘126-year old woman arrived on Lesvos – fleeing to join her children and grandchildren in Germany’

“My shoes burned in Moria. Before my shoes burned I used to run.”

A talk with a friend from Ethiopia on Lesbos Island…

If you want to run away and you are black they see you from far, White people they can run. Me sometimes i ask where can I get this white skin? For white people it is easy to run away.

……………..

“I am 21 years old. I come from West Ethiopia. I belong to the Oromo. The Oromo are a very big tribe, which inhibits a very rich part of country in the country. This is why we have so many problems.

Before I left I was a student in Adis Abeba and I also used to run. I have a good time: 10 kilometers I used to finish in 33’.

In my university they killed many Oromo students. They used to pick… well, they know us by our traditional names. My name is an Oromo name. They used to pick up all clever students from Oromo tribe and said they wanted to give us money and teach us to teach Oromo people to change their mind. They wanted us to make our people accept to give our land away. They wanted to force us to go and change them. We said: No! We can not do that. We can not change the rules.
Continue reading ‘“My shoes burned in Moria. Before my shoes burned I used to run.”’

City Plaza Hotel Athens (Greece)

A refugee-housing squat as an example of how to fight social struggles together on a daily level and for another tomorrow

 

cityplaza14„The City Plaza squat at 78 Acharnon celebrates its first month. The hotel now houses refugee families totalling 385 people, including 180 children. These include 22 single parent families, as well as people with disabilities. The nationalities that make up City Plaza include Afghans, Kurds, Syrians, Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis and Pakistanis. The families being housed at City Plaza were selected on the basis of their previous “housing” arrangement as well as on the particular problems being faced by each one. Each family lives in a separate room of the hotel, while all inhabitants are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as with hygiene products and other essentials. Nearly all are covered through solidarity offerings, while the few purchases that need to be made are financed through donations sourced from within Greece and from abroad.

In a framework of self-organization and coexistence, there are teams for cleaning, cooking, security, education and childcare, medical care, communications, reception, as well as regular assemblies of refugees and solidarians. Initiatives such as that of City Plaza, apart from granting obvious rights and needs, also put in practice a conception of everyday life which aims to, through self organization and “bottom up” emancipation, ultimately form a space of freedom and creativity, which will act as living proof of the society which we envision.“ This is how the call for an Open Assembly in the City Plaza Hotel in Athens starts. The whole text can be found on their Blog.

 

13230768_10154182185467497_72790938_oAmong the first residents of the squat are many highly vulnerable people and refugees who have been supporting them in solidarity already before, when they were still neighbours in one of the overcrowded and sub-standard mass camps of the government. More than that, those that already helped others to self-organise, who accompanied them to hospitals and to NGOs, who voluntarily translated, they also suggested persons to move in who were in great need. So there is a lot of experience in self-organising under extremely difficult conditions already existent among the inhabitants which meets in one space with the solidarity of others from Greece and all over the world. During our first visit to the ‘Plaza’ we spoke with many of13169878_10154168118707497_338290598_o the refugees who found a temporary home there. It is them who described to us their impressions and experiences of the first three weeks and what is most important for them about this space.

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Idomeni: eviction has started

idomeni-eviction-ISince the early morning hours of today, Greek riot police started to evict Idomeni. Idomeni became a symbol since the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border. It became a symbol of Europe at a crossroad. It became a symbol of a militarized and repressive borderregime violently gaining back force. And even more then this it became a symbol of hope and of the strong commitment of thousands of families, women, men and children in their daily struggle for freedom of movement and open borders.

hope1Maybe Idomeni will be emptied. Maybe all will be forced into isolated camps all over Greece. But not only is the soil of Idomeni now full of the stories of resistance.

It is the travellers who will keep this struggle alive and tell the stories to those who will follow. A friend in a very similar situation, stuck in Greece many years before said:

Noone can stop the rain.

 

For updates on the eviction, follow the Live-Ticker of Moving Europe:

http://moving-europe.org/24-5-2016-updates-from-the-eviction-in-idomeni/

Continue reading ‘Idomeni: eviction has started’

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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