On March 20 came into effect the agreement between Turkey and the European Union providing for the return of the exiles arrviins in Greece to Turkey, and the relocation in Europe of one Syrian refugee for every Syrian réfugie expelled to Turkey.
On March 20, the open reception and identification centers on the Greek islands like Chios or Lesvos, turn into closed centers. Exiles become prisoner-e-s. The volunteers who helped make the place less unworthy are forbidden access in the centers, while NGOs like MSF to withdraw not to be complicit in human rights abuses that are taking place. Faced with the threat of being sent to Turkey, the exiles protest. Independent supportive structures in the islands are destroyed or threatened with closure.
News from the I AM YOU collective :
« MAJOR CHANGES IN LESVOS
As we come out of a very turbulent 24 hours we are finally able to share the latest changes from Lesvos. Yesterday morning all the NGO’s and volunteers were told to leave the camp in Moria because it was to be taken over by the Greek police and military. This news came as a great shock to us all, including UNHCR and even the Ministry. It happened suddenly and without any warning. These changes followed the new agreement EU made with Turkey and since yesterday Moria is now yet again a detention center. Only a few organizations such as Médecins du Monde and Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) remain, but until when we don’t know.
All refugees that arrive to the Greek islands will be returned to Turkey and for every Syrian deported another Syrian in Turkey will be resettled into the EU. This is the theoretical deal. Anyone who was registered in Moria before this deal was official were transported out and taken to ferries leaving Lesvos to either Kavala, Piraeus or Athens. Anyone who arrived to Lesvos after the deal came through, midnight on the 20th of March, is now being detained in Moria. Latest information also states that eventually the police will collect and confiscate peoples belongings such as cellphones. Purpose unknown but our fears is that a closed facility like this makes it nearly impossible for the outside world to know what is happening behind closed doors.
Within a couple of hours we could see Moria transform back into the cold and chaotic place it once was, before NGO’s and volunteers entered. One could see the fear making its way back into peoples hearts and with no real answers to their many questions all we could do was hug people goodbye and collect our things before leaving the families to fend for themselves. Even with the many skilled and hardworking organizations in place, collaborations, translators and access to clothes and food, Moria was a struggle to manage on a daily basis. Now with only police and military, who’s main task is to keep the place secure and with no means of communicating with the people, it is very difficult to imagine what will happen and how families will be treated.
As for I AM YOU we are still keeping a presence in Lesvos for the next few weeks to evaluate the consequences of all the changes. We are working on continuing to develop new projects and will travel to Idomeni and Athens shortly for assessments on how to continue supporting families fleeing war and persecution.
I AM YOU has during the past six months built a very strong organization and with a long term team present and dedicated volunteers we feel confident that we will be able to set up shop in other locations and do what we do best – coordinate with other organizations to create a well functioning structure to help large amounts of people most efficiently.
Even though it has been very difficult to say goodbye to the place where we got started, I AM YOU’s mission of supporting families and sharing their stories with the world has only just begun. »
Protest in Chios detention center :
To see with the video and all links, check the blog-post:
« Detention/ deportation centre “Vial” on Chios island: “Hurria means Freedom!”
Protest against readmissions to Turkey and for the right to continue the journey to Europe
Today, on Tuesday 22nd of March, in the afternoon, hundreds of refugees locked up in the new detention centre “Vial” on Chios island started a protest raising their voices against the new Fortress Europe. They continue their struggle for freedom of movement as they became the first
refugees affected by the new cruel detention / readmission measures following the dirty deal between the EU and Turkey.
Thousands of refugees are now behind bars directly after they survived the dangerous journeys by boat while simultaneously volunteers and many NGOs were kicked out of the former Hot Spots. At the same time UNHCR and also Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) left the camps openly critisizing the new system as unfair and inhumane.
UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming: “UNHCR is not a party to the EU-Turkey deal, nor will we be involved in returns or detention.” Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF Head of Mission in Greece: “We will not allow our assistance to be instrumentalized for a mass expulsion operation and we refuse to be part of a system that has no regard for the humanitarian or protection needs of asylum seekers and migrants.”
More than that, authorities now even cut of any contact to people inside by confiscating their mobile phones. Greece nowadays returns to past horrors of “Pagani” if not worse.
In Arabic language Hurria means freedom and these are their demands:
These are the Voices of hundreds of refugees stuck on Chios. They simply demand freedom. They demand that the European governments take responsibility and treat them as human beings. They just want to continue their journey to Europe. Why can’t we access Europe? Why do you want to deport us to Turkey? They ask all other refugees to join their protest and to stand united against deportations.
Already earlier this day activists started to report on the terrible condition in the detention centre of Vial, and in an Arabic speaking facebook group the first video of the protest on Chios circulated as well.
This is not the only protest of today: In Idomeni at the border from Greece to Macedonia/ FYROM thousands started another protest demanding the opening of the borders in order to leave Greece while two refugees tried to burn themselves in dispair.
In the meantime Welcome to Europe tried to find some first answers on the most urgent questions of people who are now detained on the Greek island as well as of those who are stuck in the various open and closed mass camps on the mainland. Quite difficult as many things will still
change and no one knows exactly how the situation will look like after weeks and months. »
From the self-organised accomodation center PIKPA :
« PRESS RELEASE: LESVOS SOLIDARITY
A few hours after the EU agreed on the barbaric measures of the EU/ Turkey deal, a massive movement of refugees from the island of Lesvos towards the mainland started. The refugees received no clear information about where they were heading or about their rights. It was apparent that the government did not and does not have a plan on how shelter and health care services can be provided in the new destinations.
At the same time, the mayor of Mytilene announced to a group of representatives of Lesvos Solidarity that the space of PIKPA has to be evacuated. This means that the vulnerable cases that the camp is giving shelter to (people with long term health conditions, disabilities, single parent families, elderly etc) will have to leave immediately so that the mayor can transform the space into a children’s camp and a sports center. After the new measures he said, there will be no need for solidarity shelter camps.
Lesvos Solidarity has informed the Mayor, Mr Galinos that our residents cannot be moved hastily to an unknown destination unless a consistent follow up of the medical cases can be guaranteed in a camp that appropriately covers their needs. In addition, many of our residents have applied for asylum, family reunification, relocation; these processes move very slowly so our residents will have to wait for quite some time until their cases get processed.
The Municipality has promised not to leave these people on the street, but in any case the place has to be empty in order to be reused for other purposes.
At this historic moment when the EU has shown no respect towards upholding people’s human rights, the abolition of Pikpa camp in Lesvos is strongly related with a political decision that imposes:
• The closure of open and self-organized accommodation spaces
• The complete destruction of the beach rescue and support system structures on the beach
• Attacks to autonomous structures, medical units, social kitchens and lifeguard teams.
• The abolition of the solidarity network.
The above actions have been taken to prevent people’s fundamental human right to claim asylum; to force the detention of refugees; and to recognize Turkey as a safe country: a country which in reality creates political refugees, infringes human rights and does not give all people access to their right to claim asylum.
This new EU regime seeks to crush solidarity movements and deny people’s access to their human rights: we refuse to live in this kind of Europe.
At the same time, the Greek borders remain closed transforming the mainland of Greece into a warehouse for thousands of refugees and transforming the island into prisons, promoting mass deportations back to Turkey under NATO’s watch.
Alternatives must be available to protect people from this inhumane regime:
• Resist the application of these new measures in every possible way.
• Protect and create new structures that can cover the needs of vulnerable groups.
• Create a strong network of solidarity shelter spaces.
At this time, Lesvos Solidarity collective believes that the shelter camp for vulnerable groups located at the PIKPA facilities and all the self run, self organized spaces working in Greece should stay up and running since their existence is even more important, now more than ever.
We are not willing to let our residents be dumped into inappropriate camps, lacking access to basic and humane services.
The municipality’s decision to transform the space of PIKPA into a children’s camp and sports center should include solid suggestions on where and how a new camp for vulnerable cases would take place. At the same time, we demand from the municipality to recognize the solidarity that locals have demonstrated over the past months and not to play down our struggle and hard work. The municipality should also take a stand against transforming the island into a big detention center and against returning refugees back to Turkey, a country where fundamentals human rights are absent. Furthermore, we demand that the municipality stops criminalizing solidarity structures and instead supports having open self organized solidarity shelter camps.
Pikpa Solidarity camp, which has been accused by the municipality for “illegal and irregular actions”, has been for three and a half years been a strong solidarity hub, known all around the world. We will not allow our solidarity struggle to get destroyed due to the horrific and inhumane measures that the EU has decided to apply. »
About the destruction by the authorities of the No Border Kitchens:
« NoBorderKitchen camp was destroyed by Greek authorities today. Everyone was arrested
All 19 comrades from NBK were released wihout charges. Still, hundreds of refugees arrested and detained in Moria, today, facing deportation.
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