Tag Archive for 'Lesbos'

The Memories of the Dead will not be erased with Black Paint

Copyright: Michalis Bakas

In the night of the 24th of November 2017, by the harbour of Thermi on Lesvos Island, unidentified persons vandalised the memorial that we had erected there in 2013. It carries the names of those who had drowned on their journeys to Europe. Two wooden paddles hold the plaque with the names of the dead and the memorial looks out to the sea, dedicated to those of all ages and backgrounds, whose lives ended at sea.

On the memorial plaque, we thank the fishermen and all others who endangered their own lives when rescuing others, or when retrieving the dead from the water. Written on the plaque are the names of refugees who drowned in this area in 2013, but also of others who were later found all over the beaches of Lesvos.

Gader Turkamni, who was 14 years old and lived in Athens with his family, had returned to Syria to attend a funeral. Unable to legally return to Greece, he was forced to travel in a dinghy.

Fatma Hadjas and her three children Lodgen (3 years), Abdul (6 years) and Ginan (7 years) – her husband and their father lived in Athens and they escaped war to come and live in peace with him.

Ramazan Jomali, who was 19 years old when he died, was awaited by his brother in Greece, who had come from Paris to meet him.
Continue reading ‘The Memories of the Dead will not be erased with Black Paint’

Moria / Lesbos: Rain-sodden feet, frozen white hands, hypothermic pregnant women and trampled down children

The “Hot Spot” of horror is what Moria turned to the last week and since its inauguration when numbers of new arrivals were high and the weather conditions harsh with constant rain falls. The authorities together with the UNHCR and all other involved actors of the humanitarian aid regime failed in protecting hundreds of refugees from what was a predictable catastrophe.

Trying to protect his baby / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Trying to protect his baby / copyright: Salinia Stroux

“Mummy, mummy…,” desperate voices of children cut the sound of the strong rain fall like knives on Friday night when the horror of Moria reached once more its peak. In the darkness around the Non-Syrian gate of Moria three children are standing in the mud and crying. The two sisters and one brother lost hold of their parents. “They told us to wait in the tent. Then they went to get the documents for us. We are 5 days waiting in the queue. Two days we are permanently wet. We are hungry. We freeze. Our parents left hours ago. Now it is dark. We are afraid in the tent alone.”
Small boy covered in garbage bag / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Small boy covered in garbage bag / copyright: Salinia Stroux

That night dozens of children lose their parents. Others are aside their families in the queue. Only dozens of families still hold their places in the line as rain falls got so strong that rivers of water are falling down the dusty road of the queue where people are standing. Some are barefoot. Most are covered only with garbage bags. All are wet. The few people who didn’t give up in the hope to get a chance to enter now that most have tried to find a shelter to protect themselves from the rain, a pushing towards the fence. Small children faces are pressed on the fence. They are crying. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Rain-sodden feet, frozen white hands, hypothermic pregnant women and trampled down children’

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.”

Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: “Hot Spot” reminds of war zone’

Moria / Lesbos: Kara Tepe re-opens as mere accommodation camp and registration in Moria breaks down

Hundreds of Syrian wait for their registration in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hundreds of Syrian wait for their registration in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hundreds of Syrians were waiting for hours in Moria to get registered as the computers used encountered technical problems. Syrians do now receive also in Mytilene again the 6-months suspension of deportation paper with a photo.

UNHCR Ikea refugee houses are full once more / copyright: Salinia Stroux

UNHCR Ikea refugee houses are full once more / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Meanwhile only very few No-Syrians arrived to the camp yesterday. They were again allowed to enter the areal of the camp and use the tents and the bathrooms amongst others. Meanwhile busses brought hundreds of registered Syrians to Kara Tepe which was re-opened and is aimed to host the registered until they leave to Athens. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Kara Tepe re-opens as mere accommodation camp and registration in Moria breaks down’

Moria / Lesbos: Disastrous conditions in the future “Hot Spot” while UN High Commissioner for Refugees visits the island

Queue of Non-Syrians October 10 / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Queue of Non-Syrians October 10 / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Pilot “Hot Spot” to open located on Lesbos island. Only one day before the visit of UN High Commissioner for Refugees authorities close Kara Tepe camp and move Syrians to Moria camp. Meanwhile Non-Syrian nationalities being registered there already before have been kicked out of the few UNHCR tents.

An Afghan mother falling asleep holing her five-months-old in the arms / copyright: Salinia Stroux

An Afghan mother falling asleep holing her five-months-old in the arms / copyright: Salinia Stroux

During talks with Europe’s migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the EU presidency, the latter stressed that the EU was ready to provide financial and logistical aid to Athens to help get the Hot Spot centres up and running. The first, he said, would open “within 10 days” on Lesbos, in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is very likely it will be located in Moria at least in the first period as there is no other place found yet. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Disastrous conditions in the future “Hot Spot” while UN High Commissioner for Refugees visits the island’

Moria / Lesbos: Tear gas and beatings continue while families wait in the mud all the night

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Lesbos island on October 6, accompanied by Austrian chancellor Werner Feymann, to ostensibly appraise the refugee crisis on the islands firsthand, but what they saw there did not correspond to the everyday reality as thousands of refugees had left in four unscheduled extra ferries beforehand, the port had been cleaned, bus transportation of refugees from the north of the island to the camps had been halted, suddenly no boats were crossing the sea border just for the time during the short visit and his visit in Moria camp was focused on an inspection of the almost empty First Reception Centre, while in the meanwhile a few meters further inside the fenced territory at the pre-removal detention centre where registration takes place the desperate crowds were repressed by riot police with tear gas and severe beatings.

Queue of single men after tear gas attacks and beatings when registration halted / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Queue of single men after tear gas attacks and beatings when registration halted / copyright: Salinia Stroux

Hundreds of refugees coming mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq were trying yesterday again to get registered in Moria – often for the third and fourth day. Especially many of the highly vulnerable, such as families with babies and toddlers, handicapped and sick persons or elderly couldn’t manage to pass through the crowds around the gates, the clouds of tear gas and the beatings of the riot police. Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Tear gas and beatings continue while families wait in the mud all the night’

Moria / Lesbos: “This looks like the end of the world here!”

A father tries to help his son after another tear gas attack by lightening a small fire and holding the smoke near his eyes / copyright: Salinia Stroux

A father tries to help his son after another tear gas attack by lightening a small fire and holding the smoke near his eyes / copyright: Salinia Stroux

“Why don’t the authorities apply a registration system that works? Who is the responsible here? I really would like to speak to him. There are easy solutions to the problem. I am in the queue for three days and three nights now. Look around. This looks like the end of the world here!”

Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: “This looks like the end of the world here!”’

Moria / Lesbos: Registration chaos, police violence, hunger, thirst and sleeping rough

October 3: Registration queue in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux

October 3: Registration queue in Moria / copyright: Salinia Stroux

In the first days of October 2015 Moria has become for one more time a nightmare to refugees and activists alike even though registration procedures have been speeded up since September. Anyhow, the system changes every day with no one knowing how to actually get documents. The despair of the people arriving wet from the coasts, staying outside in the cold without shelter, food or water, medication and without any information on what to do – specifically in the nights – is creating anxiousness and stress. Hundreds of refugees stand for hours and through all of the night in queues: One day on the upper gate, the next day on the another gate, once with extra queues for families, once without…. While many refugees are pushing to enter and get registered, riot police is controlling the gates with clubs and tear gas by force.
Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Registration chaos, police violence, hunger, thirst and sleeping rough’

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... 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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