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Photo credit: Mobile Flüchtlingshilfe e.V. — Mobile Refugee Relief

Are You Syrious?-Weekly Digest (22–28/5/2017)

Summarized: this week’s reports about the refugee situation in Greece.

  • Elliniko camp is evacuated. Most residents will be moved to Thiva camp, about an hour’s drive from Athens.
  • Refugees in Agia Eleni camp in Ioannina a northern Greek province are alarmed by the massive presence of scorpions in the camp. The facility, a former orphanage, hosts people since the beginning of the month, when they were relocated from Chios, Lesvos and Sames. Almost half of the first group of arrivals are children. The Alternate Minister of Migration, Yiannis Mouzalas praised it as a “model facility.”
  • Living conditions in Greece are inhumane, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants concluded after visiting locations across the country. The report made extensive note of the overcrowding of facilities and the risks unaccompanied minors face. It called upon the Greek government to five NGOs full access in working in camps, to increase efficiency and transparency.
  • The institutional framework regarding asylum is deeply problematic, the report continues. There are two systems in Greece, and the EU-Turkey deal has further complicated the legal framework. It would be next to impossible for migrants to navigate it, were it not for NGOs handing out leaflets with information.
  • Relocation is lagging. According to the International Organisation of Migration, 13,572 people have been relocated from Greece. In September of 2015, a goal of 66,400 relocated persons by September 2017 was set.

“Unfortunately, the behaviour of many actors in the European Union, and especially in European Union Member States, seems to indicate that they consider human rights and the rule of law to be dispensable in regard to migrants under these circumstances.”

  • Souda and Vial camps in Chios are accommodating over 1,000 people each, double their capacity. The island is close to a breaking point.

Refugee Info Bus reports:

“Two of our team members were held by police for 4 hours and were released on the grounds that the photos they had taken of toilets and conditions, inside and around the camp, were deleted. We believe this level of security exists because conditions are deteriorating rapidly. We have seen first hand the violent treatment of refugees by police who are “trying” to get off the island. Mainland Greece and Athens, not Germany, France or the UK is now the unattainable dream for so many people held here in an unsanitary limbo. According to the authorities, at least 3,000 people are penned in on the island, half in a makeshift camp, living in festival tents, the rest are in a razor wire topped detention centre.”

  • Arrivals have increased dramatically in May, especially in Chios. The estimated average of daily departures is 7, whilst daily arrivals soar well above 50.
  • A young Algerian attempted to take his own life late on Tuesday night close to Souda. He was taken to the hospital and his condition is not critical.

  • On Wednesday, Souda camp announced it will not take in any more asylum-seekers.
  • UNHCR has confirmed that 2,000 refugees will be moved to Crete. They are setting up a new housing programme there. By the end of the month, they will start renting houses across the island for up to 750 people.
  • Volunteers report boats being pushed back by the Turkish coastguard.
  • The beginning of Ramadan brought problems to the residents of Samos. The Army had agreed to give all 3 meals at once, every evening. They didn’t. They kept the normal ration times, providing only one meal in the evening. Those fasting had nothing to eat for the meal before dusk. Ramadan requires an average of 17 hours of fasting every day this year.
  • A Syrian volunteer started the Ramadan Food Project, collecting food donations and preparing additional rations. They plan to distribute 6,000 portions across 22 camps.

“Dear friends and supporters, this time last year, most people hoped it would be their last Ramadan in a camp. But one year on and as we know the majority of people are still facing an endless situation. Please help us to deliver packages just to brighten up their days a little. If you can donate or share this, we will be so grateful!”

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