Moria, Lesvos (Photo: Lesvos Solidairty — Pikpa)

Are You Syrious? — Weekly Digest (18/10/2017–24/10/2017)

Summarized: this week’s reports about the refugee situation in Greece courtesy of Are you Syrious?.

One of the biggest problem in Greece stays the state of the most vulnerable category among refugees — children, especially those who are forced to travel alone. This October, in Greece alone, there were about 2,950 registered unaccompanied children from various countries. In order to survive, these children are exposed to all sorts of violence, including sexual.

There are only 1,114 beds available in 49 shelters, meaning that 1,822 are wait-listed for shelters. The current plans are that four new shelters should open soon, but only for 60 kids.

The Greek government, with the support of UNICEF, has issued a report stating that shelter personnel reports how many of the children struggle with “stress or anger related to uncertainty or fears about their future, related feelings of hopelessness, as well as loneliness due to separation from family and community”.

The report recommends that additional effort is needed “to expand the delivery of targeted mental health services” for the children who are traveling alone.

Lesvos

  • A large number of mostly Iranian and Afghan refugees have been gathering in Sappho Square, protesting because of unacceptable treatment. The protesters have been threatened with beatings, arrest, and they are expecting evictions to happen.
  • Arash Hampay gives AYS an update on the situation and about the protesters, who are protesting for more than 5 days:
When the refugees started protesting on the first day, the police tried to prevent them from reaching the city using any means they could, including blocking the road and threatening refugees with arrest. The refugees continued their struggle through all those obstacles and they finally reached the city center. 
The first night that the refugees occupied Sapfous square, all of those in power appeared; the Police, The head of Moria, the head of Kara Tepe. They came as they had done before.
“Go back to the camp,” they said. But the refugees have already experienced the empty promises of the authorities. The refugees did not let themselves be lured by their false promises. Beside the ill-treatment of the heads of the camps and the police, even representatives of the hospital and emergency services in Mytilini acted in a an immoral and callous manner.
On Tuesday the police gave us an ultimatum of 10 minutes to leave the square, in a very threatening way. When we declined, the police threatened that they would arrest me first and then every one else at the square. We did not leave the square and they could not arrest us as we are committing no crime. Around one hundred refugees have stayed continuously at the square during these last days. They have protested. They have demanded justice. They have demanded a fair treatment. But they have not been received in a dignified way. The police, the Greek government and the UNHCR have not had any positive reactions.
We demand that we will be released from this big and beautiful prison of Lesvos Island. We want to go to another country where vulnerable refugees are accepted.
  • People refused to go back to Moria camp, saying that they fear for their safety and demand to be accommodated in better conditions. Among those who are participating in these protests are mostly new arrivals, but also some people who have been stranded on the island for almost 2 years.
  • Moria camp has a capacity for 2,000 people but is hosting around 5,500.
  • The situation in Moria is expected to be better when a large part of the camp currently occupied by the asylum service is emptied after the service moves to another building. The building infrastructure of the asylum service is expected to house more than 500 people.
Lesvos (Photo: Mehdi Shams)‎
  • At the beginning of the month and after nine days of on-site evaluation, representatives of Human Rights Watch appeared in the Greek Parliament and described Moria’s hell.
“Moria is a concentration camp. A camp with a crowd of thousands of people. What we saw in Moria is an urgent situation. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen and I’ve had a war,” said researcher Emina Tserimovits capturing what she experienced in the hotspot of Mytilene. While Eva Cossé, Western Europe researcher based in Athens working for HRW said to Athenslive that “this is the worst condition of Moria camp so far!”
Protests by refugees in Lesvos. They refuse to live in the overcrowded Moria camp and demand that freedom of movement to be granted. (Photo: Legal Centre Lesbos)

Chios

  • The high tensions occurred in overcrowded Vial, the hotspot on the island where refugees are facing bad conditions, led to a protest around the compound.
  • Volunteers report that there are so many refugees on the island now that more than 100 will have to sleep at the port, a situation that has not been seen since shortly after the EU-Turkey agreement.
  • One volunteer recently described the insufficient bathroom and sewage facilties in the Vial camp. Because there are not nearly enough bathrooms, “People are reduced to relieving themselves in the open, exposed to the elements, snakes and scorpions. If Souda was hell, Vial is fast becoming its ninth circle.”
Tents for people outside Vial, where more than 400 refugees have to stay. (Photo: Gabrielle Tan)

Samos

  • Many refugees, including families, are forced to sleep outside. Not only have many not been provided with tents, but they have not even received blankets or clothing form the UNHCR and Greek authorities.
  • One of the first rains of the season in occurring on Samos and in preparation for this the group Samos Volunteers has been handing out trash bags so that refugees’ possessions will not become soaked.
Samos in the rain (Photo: MSF Sea)
Samos in the rain (Photo: Samos Volunteers)
(Info-graphic: Help Refugees)

Mainland

  • According to Eurostat data, from the beginning of this year to the end of September, over 400.000 asylum applications were submitted throughout the Europe. In Greece 27.100 and among the applicants, the most people come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, on 20/10/2017 proposed five measures to the other European leaders to reduce the levels of arrivals in Europe (Greece). He was speaking of the recent increase in refugee flows in the Aegean and he stressed the need to strengthen the EU-Turkey deal with five additional measures that will address the problem in a comprehensive manner, the Greek Reporter tells:
1. A European mechanism for resettlement of refugees from third countries to the EU with the operation of central asylum services in third countries.
2. A European mechanism for returns of refugees to countries of origin or transit.
3. A funding mechanism for refugees in Turkey and examining possibilities of strengthening it.
4. Implementation of the readmission agreement signed by Turkey.
5. A long-term plan to improve living conditions in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
All of them apart from the last, although insufficient, are based on repressive measures and promote detention of refugees in real terms. They have also proven not to work very well for lack of resources or because they depend too much on volatile politics, adds AYS.
  • On 23/10/2017 19 human rights and humanitarian aid organizations released an open letter to Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, saying that he and the Greek government should end “containment policy” of confining asylum seekers to the Aegean islands.
“Europe is refusing to offer humane reception conditions and dignity to people in need who arrive on our shores,” said Nicola Bay, head of mission for Oxfam in Greece.Greek and EU authorities should immediately transfer migrants to the Greek mainland instead of leaving them trapped in abysmal conditions on the Greek islands.
“The EU-Turkey deal must no longer be used as pretext to strand asylum-seekers in inhuman conditions on the Greek islands’’ said Irem Arf, Amnesty International’s researcher on migration.

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