Many months ago We wrote:
“History will write of a time, our time, when shamefully those seeking refuge from a world at war, were dealt with behind barbed wire and steel gates. Families fleeing torture, persecution and violence dealt with through a dehumanizing bureaucracy of losing their names to be given a number, losing their identity to be given an A4 sheet of paper and losing their freedom because a “deal” was struck that forgot that as we speak of “refugees ” or “migrants” we are speaking of men, women and children and what they are fleeing ( and why)”
And now, November 2016, and This is Samos camp , one of the European Union’s so called “hotspots”. This is what we are supposed to consider the “Best we can do” for fellow human beings. This is a disgrace and a shame on all of us who allow it to continue!
If our bombs don’t kill you , our lack of humanity just might!
It is now winter 2016, days are cold, nights are bitterly cold. The numbers here have now reached over 2000 with more arriving . We have many, many children and babies . There are physical injuries, psychological injuries, PTSD is common. The volunteers do what they can but two years later it is getting harder and harder. Money is tight all round, the media do us no favours, the propaganda is regularly winning out and people are dying. These people, seeking refuge, the consequences of outside influences, war, conflict, murder and greed have forced upon them, have seen or lived through experiences of hell on earth and they still face total uncertainty. Families have been split up either through war, death, drowning or displacement. Physically, emotionally mentally or psychologically every single one is scarred. As we stated in a recent interview lately, ” We have children who don’t speak anymore; children whose hair has turned white from trauma; children who are old beyond their years and have seen and lived through experiences that an adult would find hard to come to terms with. While witnessing the stories of rape, torture and fear among the women and children is heartbreaking, some of the saddest stories come from the elderly — those who lived their lives and planned to live out their days in their own countries and in their own homes and are now forced to face life homeless and with no future, with their families dead or dispersed. having witnessed this reality, it is impossible not to grow angry at xenophobic, racist commentary about the migrant crisis that tends to come from people with little insight into the situation: “It is only circumstance that makes us the ones able to help and someone else the person in need of help at this time, who knows what the future holds for any of us and our loved ones?” ( Western people, November 14th edition)
Speaking to my sister recently she sums it up ” I take for granted that tomorrow I’ll still have a home and a car and a job and food and money”…The human race is now showing that none us can take anything for granted anymore.
Here in Samos many have been here for almost 10 months now with no end in sight. The authorities and NGO’s do not do enough, in fact, there have been times they do nothing. I realize this is a problem much bigger than one island but i also categorically know that enough money is allocated to asylum offices, large NGOs and organisations to make this process smoother, more expedient and more dignified .
Picture from Oreokastro camp, Thessaloniki, Greece. November 2016
Samos camp , with its capacity for 800 and now holding over 2000 has now spilled out in to an adjoining field. Every inch inside the camps barbed wire boundary is filled with tents, cheap small summer camping tents with sheets of UN plastic thrown over them to try ( and fail) to keep out the wind and/or the rain.Families of up to 5 people are huddled under 2 blankets. Obviously the queues for the food are longer and tension erupts at times. The water is still periodic , the interviews are still at a snails pace and still nothing is done. The volunteers are running practically 24 hours while “others” in the middle of a worldwide humanitarian disaster and man made crisis, still work “office hours”.
According to migration authorities, a total of 15,955 migrants are currently staying at facilities on Aegean islands. Lesvos is hosting 6,124, Chios is hosting 4,211, Samos 2,760, Kos 1,990 and 870 stay on Leros.
The cafe initiative set up last April is now more a necessity than a social outlet with hot beverages provided in an effort to warm people up at night and is also a volunteer distribution point for everything from strollers to blankets to kettles to stoves and everything in between ( all purchased by volunteers ).
Outside in the field families huddle around campfires, campfires used to brew coffee, dry clothes and warm bodies. After one shower of rain, the field becomes a muddy mess with tents falling, ground moving and people slipping. Inside the rains flow down the camp as Samos RIS is built totally on a steep incline . After the rains the barbed wires, the steel gates and any other possible structure become washing lines for the hundreds of water logged blankets and soaked clothing.
And it does not end here. After Samos or any of the other RIS ( Hotspots) of which there are 5, families and individuals then move on to other camps or squats or even to the streets while waiting for the reunification, relocation or asylum processes to continue.
We, on behalf of those in need, can not do this without your support. We need you help with funding, with awareness and with the truth being told. We are not a large organisation, we are 2 people although thankfully volunteering alongside some really wonderful independent volunteers here in Greece. We do not spend money , your money, on advertising, administration and we do not get paid. Your donations go exactly where you expect them to go.
FOR OPTIONS ON DONATING PLEASE CLICK:
Or go fund me page , No more borders No more tears
or message or email firstname.lastname@example.org for bank details
As ever, Thank you…
We also would like to ask those back in Ireland that would like to offer help in a more direct way also to check out this post . ( We hope to volunteer with this sometime n 2017 also)
Mayo Volunteer Centre
Are you willing to play a positive role in the biggest humanitarian crises the world currently faces – by acting right here in Mayo?
Volunteers are needed to assist a small number of Syrian families resettling in Mayo (Castlebar, Claremorris, Westport). You will be required to assist families with getting to know their new home/town. Time commitment is 2 – 3 hours a week for 1 year. Positive attitude and a willingness to spend time with people with limited English required. Arabic speakers and men particularly welcome. Volunteers will be screened and Garda vetted. Training will be provided and programme will begin in January 2017.
Details at the link below or message us for more info.