Following of Céline Barré’s chronicle on the road of the exiles in the Balkans.
Lesbos – September 9.
“I can see your passport? “
Surprise for the first time this journey, it is a taxi driver who asks for my passport. He apologizes to ask us for this but “you understand the police forbade us to take refugees in our taxis … otherwise you must pay a fine.” My English is rough, I ask him to repeat, hoping to have misunderstood.
«Europeans Yes, Refugees No ».
Ok then it is clear. In an attempt to justify himself, he said he is left side, it is unbearable to him they prohibit him to carry women and children, Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, the “non-European“. A few days earlier a mother handed him her baby, asking to get them in town. He could not, “police problem”. My European status makes me nauseous.
On the road, families walk on the opposit direction to regain the city, the port. To get out of here as soon as possible. Fathers, children try to stop taxis, showing their wallet and the famous “recording paper” document issued by the Greek authorities allowing them to travel but forbidding them to stay in Athens, Patras, Thessaloniki, Nikea and all other Greek cities. Freedom of movement? No. Here they are in “transfer”. Prohibition to stay, they are just passing through! We accept that they fail on Greek beaches, but they must be identified as soon as possible. And the road is long, do not hang out here!
We plunge in the countryside where there is a refugee camp called “Moria“. We are entering a area monitored by the Greek police. On site, large prefabricated surrounded by barbed wire fences. All around, tents, tarpaulins, shelters and some kids that make it even a more terrifying landscape. It reminds me of Calais, my nausea intensifies. The driver looks at me embarrassed: “Welcome to Europe”. The camp is almost empty; Yesterday thousands of people were recorded, sorted and transferred to Athens.
Sort is the term. Only the Syrian, some Iraqis, but Afghans wait. The Africans ? They only had to go through Lampedusa!
I understand then that sorting, selecting eligible to Europe individuals starts here, on this island. But how to tell the difference between an Afghan child, an Iraqi child and a Syrian child who nevertheless were on the same boat?
Abdel Aziz, Syrian boy met yesterday, future doctor footballer was born in the right place, had the good war, he will be a good refugee. His Afghan friend of the same age who fled Taliban terror, will wait here any longer, in this camp, under its barbed wire. After all … The war in Afghanistan … it goes way back … Welcome to Europe Afghan little man!
We meet the mayor of Mytilene on the spot: the driver introduces us as “French journalists,” I do not have time to rectify the mayor thanked us for being there, he waited for us a long time, we journalists . “You have to show the situation, it is no longer tolerable.”
But what is not bearable anymore? The number of people penned up in these camps? The selection by nationality? The number of deaths at the border? The police prohibiting taxis to transport “Arab”, “undocumented” families? What is most unbearable?
These people are still in the beginnings of the European hassle; that created and imposed by our governments. Because we refuse him a visa, Abdel Aziz, 13 years arrives here by boat. From there he is under the “responsibility of the European states.” We park him, we sort him (Thank God he is Syrian), he is sent to the border with Macedonia and then to the Serbian border, Austrian, Hungarian.
Abdel Aziz, you’ll have to wait at the border before being transferred to Germany or France… The heads of state being revising quotas; 24,000 here and 30,000 there. Syrians, one wants Syrians!
Abdel Aziz, you’re Syrian? What luck. Your Afghan friend? Your Iraqi friend? For them, we will see later. And before long we will no longer have the capacity to “manage” we will have exceeded the quota! Thou art mindful little guy? Europe makes you a favor… So‘re avoiding to bring your cousin in a few months… There will be no more spots.
Europe will continue to create camps, such as Moria, that of Calais, secured by barbed wire walls. It‘s how we handle those unwanted. Today, a warm welcome from Angela Merkel and François Hollande, tomorrow strengthening border security and its justification by our good old saying that we can not welcome all the misery of the world.
Have you understood little guy? Then go!