Nea Kavala is a migrant camp set in a windy field in northern Greece. Over 2,000 people call it home.
Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese live here. Twenty-five of them use their spare time to volunteer with Red Cross’ hygiene promotion team.
With time on their hands, many people work to improve life for themselves and others in the camp. Some of these are the 25 refugees who volunteer with Red Cross’ hygiene promotion team.
Six of these volunteers were given cameras to capture what life looks like for the residents of Nea Kavala. This is the life they saw.
Children make up 40 per cent of the migrants and refugees who are now stranded in Greece.
Saleh wanted to capture the life of kids in his photographs, such as these children in Nea Kavala enjoying a show about hygiene and sanitation. But the smiles of children playing around the camp belie the years of war and conflict that have characterised their short lives.
“It’s so hard for the kids living here. They’re losing their young lives.
They should be at school, living somewhere safe. Not it Syria where there
are bombs and fighting every day. And not here in this camp where there
are snakes and nothing to do.”
Red Cross provides healthcare and psychological support to children and their parents in the camp, many of whom have experienced serious trauma.
“This little guy spent a long time trying to fill up his bottle. He was very diligent, wanting to get it right to the very top.
“There is a lot sadness of the camp, particularly among the children. But people are creating solutions to deal with the difficulties.”
Red Cross is installing and maintaining water points in the camp to ensure access to safe water for drinking, washing and bathing.
“This little girl was helping her mum carry water from the taps to her tent. The camp is divided into sections and there are taps for each section. She carted the water from about 200 meters away, stopping every few meters to take a break.” Issa Alkehdar
“I climbed up onto the shaded area and tried to take a pic ture of the whole camp. You would have to climb a mountain to see how big the whole camp is.”
Red Cross is advocating for better housing so people can live with dignity.
“I was just trying to take pictures that showed the suffering of people in the
camp — and the happy moments. The reality. This man was making dinner
for his children, you can see he’s using wood to make a small fire.”
War, conflict and the journey through numerous countries to reach Europe have separated families and loved ones.
“This woman is about 70 years old, and she lives here in the camp by herself.
I wanted to show how people live in the camp, that it’s really hard, and at times very sad. But even with the uncertainty, we’re all doing our best.”
Despite ongoing uncertainty around how long people will be in the camp, people are putting down roots, growing vegetables and flowers among their tents to supplement their groceries and bring some colour and normality to their lives.
A build-up of rubbish can attract flies which bring disease, rats and mice, which attract snakes. Red Cross provides equipment for rubbish collection and volunteers from the camp community encourage people to keep the camp clean.
Children stranded in Greece have been out of school on average for 18 months. With the beginning of the new school year in Greece, the Government has taken steps to provide places for migrant children to attend local schools.
Where integration into local schools isn’t possible due to language barriers, temporary learning spaces are being set up in camps.
People fleeing war and violence have left not only their homes behind but also their professions. There are teachers, doctors, lawyers, translators, seamstresses, hairdressers, football coaches living in the camp. Pictured is one of four barbers at Nea Kavala.
These men pass the time playing trex, a Middle-Eastern card game. According to the Greek Government, more than 60,000 people in Greece, primarily families, currently await decisions on asylum and EU relocation.
How Red Cross is helping
The International Federation of the Red Cross seeks to address the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable migrants and their families.
In Australia, Red Cross provides help and support to refugees, asylum seekers, immigration detainees and other people who are vulnerable as a result of migration.
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Saleh Barakat (centre),
arrived in Greece on 26 February 2016, after travelling for five days
Khadija Toghaji, has since
moved to Athens and is waiting
on the outcome of her EU relocation application.
Issa Alkehdar from Aleppo arrived in Greece on 21
Mohamad Ghozlan (right) is from Syria and arrived in Greece on 22 February 2016.
Rawan Abbas arrived in Greece from Syria and has since been reunited with his wife in Germany.
Ahmed Ismael arrived in
Greece around eight months ago. He lives in the camp with his
mother and sisters.