Tag Archive for 'lesvos'

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 13)

Author: A migratory girl

Note: This photo is not showing the persons described below in the letter.

I am the mother of two sick babies

Every mother raises up her baby being proud of it from the first day. When she kisses her baby, her baby kisses her back, and this is the absolute happiness for her. When the child grows, she is watching how it plays with others. She watches it grow and develop. These are the joys of a mother. 

I have raised my two children under the hardest conditions of life. I spent everyday praying for them. But while the body of my four year old girl grew, her brain did not follow along. And the same happened to my boy.

I love my children. But society humiliated us for them being different. I will never forget that everybody expected my husband to get married again, because I gave birth to mentally disabled babies.

I didn’t even know that I was getting married. I was so small, getting married was for me was like playing with my dolls, and it was the same for all other girls of my very young age.

When I started to learn about life as a couple, I realised that I was pregnant and when I hugged my Mariam* (names changed) for the first time, I became also aware of people’s talk – mostly the nearest persons around me. They called my baby “handicapped”, “abnormal”, and those words aggrieved me.

To find medical help for the growth problems of our child and escape their stigmatisation and the painful talks around our family we decided to escape, first to Iran and after to Turkey.

We tried to find appropriate treatment for our daughter for four years. For the first three years, no one could tell us the reason of her illness. Finally, they found out, that she had a brain damage.

My Mariam … she is full of emotions, full of love and affection, full of innocence. Her world is simple, but pure. Her view on life is different. Even when humiliating hands rest on her shoulders, she feels that they are innocent, hands full of sympathy.

When I see that she goes near flowers, I become happy that maybe she is getting pleasure from her environment, but then she becomes aggressive to them. Observing her in such scenes feels like thorns piercing my eyes.

Every mother wishes to see her baby crawl, but I couldn’t see it, since she was like a dead body in a corner until she became two years old. Every mother wishes to hold her baby’s hand and teach her how to walk, but I touched her weak joints and she whined and cried in pain.

Hey mothers on this earth! Hey you who have children!

I swear that I raised this girl 9 months in my belly. I swear that I desired death while giving birth. I passed a long period after her birth, eating dry bread with water, praying that she becomes better, that she becomes a happiness for us and happy herself.

I have lived with such pain. The Turkish doctors told us that there was no hope to treat Mariam.

And, then, in Turkey, another seed was planted and started growing. I have grown Amir* full of hope. Although looking at Mariam made me cry every day, my husband, cleared away my tears, put his hand on my belly and gave me hope. How many nights didn’t I cry for the health for my kids… but in this inhumane world, my souls screams haven’t been heard.

This mother, after 9 months of carrying her baby and 6 days of labor pains, was told once again the same news: She is having an unhealthy baby.

I passed two years full of hope, telling myself that maybe it was not true, that things may change. The doctors in Turkey told us that he had the same problem as Mariam. His brain will not grow and the muscles of his body will not work well. However, there was a treatment for him, especially because he was smaller that Mariam, but that treatment was not possible in Turkey. For that we needed to move on to a European country.

We had been living as refugees in Turkey for four years. We were beggars on everybody’s door. Every day we visited the doctors. However, we didn’t know their language, and we didn’t have an interpreter. We wandered for hours and days to find the hospitals as we didn’t know the addresses, only to understand, in the end, that we were in Turkey for nothing. We saw that all doors were closed to us. So we gathered everything, held our children’s hands and started our migration towards Europe.

Now we ask ourselves: Is this really Europe? Is this the continent of hope? Where is that bright light that we came here to find for our children?

No! Here our heart’s light didn’t turn on. Europe turned our hopes off and we are trapped in darkness.

For four months now every day we go to the doctors in Mytilene. It seems that our babies are pictures, that can be diagnosed by a quick look. Without having carried out any test, they tell us that our babies don‘t have any problems. It is as if you go to the doctor and tell him that you have a headache and the doctor tells you, “where is your pain, I cannot see it”.

No one answers our questions. We are like ping pong balls for them. They throw us from one hospital to another for nothing.

If you have parents, if you are a father or mother, if you love someone around you, you will understand us. You will understand how hard it is to see a seed of your body, growing to become a human that is just alive but doesn’t live. Every day looking at our children’s situation we wish to die.

We didn’t come here for money or luxuries but for the doctors. For us just having a nest to protect us from the cold and to live with our healthy children would be enough.

In search of just a nest…

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to my friend who shared her story with me. I wish she will find what she is seeking for!

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 9)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Salinia Stroux

I am mother

I am mother of three children and  wife of a sick husband. He has a hernia on his backbone. He cannot walk. Neither should he get tired. So, I must look after my entire family on my own.

I am a woman, softer than flowers, but this life makes me harder than rocks.

Every day, as the sun rises, my mission starts. I wake up at 5am. I spread the blanket over my children. Then I go to get food. I walk 800 meters to the food line.  The line starts at 6:30am., but I want to be up front, the first one among a thousand women.

All this waiting for just 5 cakes and one litter of milk, which I suspect is mixed with water.

My boy has a kidney infection for five years now. He cannot tolerate hunger. I must go back as fast as I can.

When back, I gather all the blankets and spread them on the tent’s floor.

I sweep in front of my tent. With my own hands I made a broom from tree branches. I wet the soil with water to prevent the dust and dirt from coming inside.

I hardly finish and, once again, I must run to the food line for taking lunch. The queue starts at 11:30am although they distribute the food only at 13:00pm. So the whole waiting process, under unbearable conditions, starts for me again. In the line for hours, I do not know what happens to my children: Are they well? Are they safe? Has my son’s pain started?

We have been here for 200 days. And every week, we eat the same food – repetitive, tasteless, with no spices, little salt and oil. Three times a week beans, once meatballs, once chicken and once rice with sausage, which we don’t know for sure if it is Hallal. But I force my children to eat so they won’t stay hungry.

Securing meals is only one of my tasks. I must also wash my family’s clothes. As my children are all the day outside, their clothes get really dirty. Trying to clean the stains my hands get all chapped, the skin cracks. I need to rub them with oil every night.

I hang the clothes and, tiredly, I walk, once more, to the line for dinner—dinner only by name. Dry bread, one tomato and one egg. We must wet the bread to chew it. This is no dinner. When we have nothing to eat, we have to eat onion with bread (it’ s hot for children but we try to eat it cheerfully).

When my day finishes, I am really exhausted. But I do not want my family to notice. I fix my face. It should show no sadness, no fatigue. I hide my chapped hands from my husband and my children.

Sometimes, I don’t make it to the food line, because of the long queues, which I have to stand in to visit the clinic. I go there at 7:00am, but the process is very slow and, usually, every patient takes about 20 minutes inside. Then, the situation of my child gets worse than it normally is, because of his exposure to the sun and the polluted air outside. We need a specific permit to go get some drinking water.

Waiting in queue for four hours, without any toy or game, is very hard for children. It is equally hard for pregnant women like me. I know my husband is not happy when he sees me trying to manage on my own every day. But there is no other way. We don’t have anyone to help. Only ourselves. And he cannot.

I am my family’s strength, their courage, their hope. If I lose hope, who will stand by them? Who will help them? No one.

When the sun sets and darkness spreads, I am filled with fear. I fear also when it becomes cloudy and it rains. I fear the wind, I fear the cold. How will I protect my family? With what will I protect them, when we do not have anything?

When you don’ t have any resources, what are you going to do? I collect the blankets from the floor and spread the cardboards instead. The blankets are our covers at night and the carpets during the day.

I am a mother and wife. My children are the pieces of my heart and my husband is my blood. They are all I have in my life. But who am I for myself?

I don’t have time to even see myself in the mirror. I don’t have time to comb my hair once a day. I don’t have time to brush my teeth in 24 hours.  I can’t take care of my skin. I can’t be a woman .

I am content to sacrifice myself to make a comfortable life for my children and my love, my husband. Because I am a woman. It is my choice to be like this. Life is hard here and there is nowhere good to go.

I was given the documents to go to the mainland. But I canceled my ticket. On the mainland, the authorities will put us in a hotel, far from hospitals or clinics that we depend on. What am I going to do there with my sick child and my husband and myself pregnant? We need (specialised) doctors. We need protection and care. 

I am sorry that I don’ t have time to speak with my family as a mother, as a wife and as a friend. Because I don’ t have more power. I can’ t do more in 24 hours, than bring food, go to clinics, stand in lines.

I have had enough. I can’t continue anymore. Truly, if I didn’t have my children, I would have committed suicide. I live only because it is worth living for them. And now, I am pregnant and I carry one more life in me.

I am one for myself, but four for my family. Soon I will be five…

Parwana

p.s. For all the mothers!

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 6)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Salinia Stroux

I am a volunteer translator

I am the father of two children. I am the husband of a woman full of emotion. And above all, I am a human being. It is only one aspect of my current situation, that I am also a refugee, one among thousands of others.

Every day, I work for hours to help people access services and solve their problems. Every day, exhausted, I run 900m distance to eat lunch in hurry, and quickly come back to continue help more people.           

On these days where I am helping, my wife carries all the housekeeping responsibilities alone: She looks after the children, waits in endless lines to get some food for us all, washes clothes, puts some order in our abode. She does all these things with pleasure, so that I can help translate the troubles of the people standing in the sun for hours, in need for someone to communicate on their behalf.

What happens to our children when she needs to go away from our tent and leaves them in our neighbour’s tent? Are they safe? They will not be bothered by someone? They don’t miss us? Such questions torture me during all the day.

Today, I am sorry that my name is father. I am sorry, that I cannot be the good father – as I want, that I cannot be the good husband – as I want. I try to be a good father, and I try to help all the others who suffer the same conditions like us.

Today, while I was translating for a doctor the symptoms of a patient, when a familiar sound of crying, reached my ears. I did not have the heart to leave my work half done and check of the person belonging to that voice. So patiently, I continued, trying to keep my attention on the words I had to translate. Yet, that familiar sound set off  an explosion in my brain. Finally, when I was needed no more, stressed-out and anxious, I approached the door. 

What I had feared, a few minutes before, was indeed true. That was the sound of my wife’s crying as she tried to come inside to see the doctor. In her arms, there was our daughter, unconscious. The girl had been vomiting a lot in the tent, she explained, and when they started out for the clinic she fainted. The guard advised me that she should have taken our daughter to the Doctors without Borders (MSF). But I wasn‘t able to open my mouth to  utter the words. 

The sight of my wife‘s eyes, now blood-shot, and the sight my listless daughter in her arm left me speechless and my mind blank. I could not even explain that she was my wife. Only, when she started suddenly, to shake, did I come back to myself. So I turned to the nurse and did what I did for all the other patients: I described what had happened. The nurse went to have a look, only to tell us that it would have been better to bring her earlier. How could they have come all that distance faster? Did she not know our difficult living conditions? When she went to examine our child, I, too, went back to my work. I didn’t want people to stay waiting while sick like my child, in that bad weather.             

When my working time finished, we started out for our tent: my wife, my daughter and me. Feeling a bit better, my little girl lifted herself and asked for a juice. But…

However, the UNHCR, the European Union and Greece get thousands of Euros everyday. In spite of that, they do not hire enough translators to help sick people in clinics inside the camp of Moria and in the big hospital. Lack of translators, even in emergencies, is one of the most common problems of people.

To rely on migrant volunteer translators is shameful. Europe should feel shame. When even in its own hospitals nurses speak no English, how can they expect it from people who come from places where many kids have no access to proper education?

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to the father, husband, human being, volunteer translator, who shared his story and happens to be a refugee today!

“Listen to our voices!”: Tear-gas and protests in overcrowded Katsikas Camp

Refugee residents from Katsikas refugee camp, managed by Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB), call for solidarity as officials try to place newcomers from the Aegean Islands in the already overcrowded camp. About 100-200 refugees are protesting right now. Riot police has been called to assist the camp management. Residents report of scared kids and tear-gas. They say conditions have been already squalid before while no one is listening to their problems.

“We are already around 1,500 people living here. The officials say we are only 1,000, but thats not true. There is no assistance to us. Now they want to put 2-3 families in one container; about 10-12 people. They say to us: `Here is Greece. You don’t have a right to speak. You are migrants. You have to listen to us.` There is no security, no rules here, no doctor… We have many problems. Yesterday they brought new people here from Kos. Today they want to bring more from Lesvos. They come with the police to knock the doors and put more people inside. The kids get scared, the families get scared. They want to force us to accept whatever they decide. Now the riot police entered the camp and they shot tear-gas on our kids. People are asking why Greece is doing that to them? Why nobody listens to our voices? We are human beings! We want to be respected! It is no solution to transfer the problems of inhuman living conditions from the islands to the mainland. We demand a life in dignity inside the cities and not in isolated and overcrowded camps! We demand freedom for all!”

 

 

Lesvos 21.3.2016: Detained Pakistanis transported with Blue Star in handcuffs to Piraeus / additional information

A witness account

pakistaniWe were traveling with the ferry Blue Star 1 from Mytilene to Piraeus on the 21.3.16.
As we entered the ship at 19.45 o’clock we saw an overcrowded bus entering filled with with sitting and standing persons. Outside media representatives and volunteers where watching the situation.

The bus on which was written EURORIDE on the front right side and which had the plate nr. PAZ1316 stopped inside the ship and we could see from a distance of 1 meter the people running handcuffed two by two up the stairs. We asked how many they are and someone from the crew said 150. Continue reading ‘Lesvos 21.3.2016: Detained Pakistanis transported with Blue Star in handcuffs to Piraeus / additional information’

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: 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.
Continue reading ‘Moria / Lesbos: Chaotic registration queues leave refugees in future Hot Spot under inhumane conditions for hours’

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’

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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