Tag Archive for 'greece'

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AI: Deep concerns over bad conditions in Elliniko Camp

Following a research visit in Elliniko on February 4th, Lia Gogou (researcher for Amnesty International in Greece and Cyprus) expressed her deep concern about the miserable conditions in Elliniko Camp and the lack of alternatives for refugees staying there.

“The refugees are stuck here since one year. Our researcher during their visit last Saturday documented big problems inthe sanitary infrastructure, the lack of fresh air and sufficient toilettes and showers. They saw people sleeping in tents, exposed to the cold and rain. Refugees themselves mentioned they were worried about the quality of the food and the limited access to hot water. Among people interviewed were highly vulnerable persons such as unaccompanied minor boys and single mothers. They said they were not feeling safe in the camp, and they were desperate due to bad living conditions and the lack of alternatives.”

Many Afghan refugees, of whom AI has taken interviews are excluded from the relocation scheme merely by their nationality and from family reunification as their relatives might not belong to the close definition of a family unit. There are many highly vulnerable refugees that should be legally moved with Humanitarian Visas to other EU-states as their survival cannot be secured in Greece.

UPDATE: Hunger strike in the hot spot on Samos Island

another refugee needing emergency care after not eating for 3 days in the camp's hunger strike. For months he has not received proper medical treatment for his condition.

Posted by Hessam Ghafelpour on Montag, 6. Februar 2017

In it’s third day of hunger strike a second protestor had to be transferred to the doctor.

Letter by the last 9 refugees staying in Oraiokastro Camp

Dear Authorities,

We the last remaining nine residents of Oraikastro Refugee Camp are PROTESTING against the moving of us to yet another military camp. We understand you have to close the camp.

But we do not want to be moved to another camp. The camps Veria and Alexandria that you are suggesting is too far away. We have friends and family in Thessaloniki. Some of us have been split up from our siblings as we are not considered to be part of their family. We may not even be relocated to the same country as them. We may not get the opportunity to see them for many years. Please don’t rob us of this last opportunity to stay near our friends and family before relocation.

We stayed in Idomeni camp and now Oraikastro in very poor inhumane conditions. We don’t want to move to another camp and be unsettled again. No matter how good the other camps may be, camp conditions are not good for us. It takes time to become used to a new camp and every move has always led to new problems. None of these camps are suitable for human beings to live in.

Some of us have also had our second interviews and we were promised to be moved into an apartment or hotel after the second interview.

Today the families were moved to a hotel. We understand that families with children should be priority and we are happy they will be living in better conditions now. BUT WHAT ABOUT US??

We simply asked for our right to stay in a better condition also and we were refused. Unfortunately one of the ministry professionals who attended today was rude to us. We are sorry that some of us shouted and became angry. We are sorry that one of us pushed a member of staff over. We have suffered a lot in our countries that sometimes we can’t control our emotions. We are sorry if we disrespected or hurt anyone. WE ARE SORRY.

We fled war. Our family members and loved ones died. We are split up from our families. We lost homes, our education and our dignity. We are traumatised and although we may seem like strong young men some of us are vulnerable too. WHAT ABOUT US??

We have been told that if we don’t move then the Greek ministry will send police to evacuate us by force. We know what that means and we have seen it before. THEY WILL HURT US.

We the last nine remaining residents of Oraikastro Refugee Camp are appealing to UNHCR and Norwegian Refugee Council to please help us. We don’t want to fight and we don’t want them to force and hurt us either.
We promise to be calm and we promise to peacefully protest but we don’t want to move to another camp.

Norwegian Refugee Council and UNHCR please give us back our dignity and keep us safe from the harsh nature of the military police who maybe coming for us. Please protect us. Give us our right to at least a standard living condition. There is nine people left and we request three rooms for nine of us to share. That is all.

Abdo Alrajab, Raed Anbtawy, Mustafa Aldeider, Shas Alkasem, Basel Yatakan, Abdelilah Alhamoud, Loay Ammar, Mahamoud Bayer AND Belal Mustafa

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’.
Continue reading ‘Hunger Strike in Elliniko Camp’

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.
Continue reading ‘Death in Greek Camps’

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

Voices from Inside VIAL / Chios: Unaccompanied minor detained since 49 days

On the March 19, 2016, one day before the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal, Hamid* and his three friends arrived in a boat with 46 people on the shores of Chios. They where transferred to detention in VIAL. From that day on they suffer mostly from the lack of freedom and protection. They have expressed fear and anxiety due to a lack of information on their rights and growing tensions among inmates. According to the teenager many refugees in VIAL suffer severe psychological problems due to the detention conditions, the violence (also by law-enforcement officers) and the fear to be the next returned to Turkey.

„If every one gets to know about our problems in VIAL it will be good. I don’t have any one in this world. I swear. There is no one but God I can rely on.
Continue reading ‘Voices from Inside VIAL / Chios: Unaccompanied minor detained since 49 days’

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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