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Condemn me, it does not matter; History will absolve me.” – Fidel Castro. ( 1926-2016)

As the death is announced of the great revolutionary, Fidel Castro, above is one of his memorable quotes. Sadly and shamefully, the same can not be said of us, this generation, this period of history as we watch and permit the death, humiliation , racist treatment and inhuman reactions to the call out of so many for help.

Arriving back in Samos, one of the 5 hotspots has been sad . Nothing has ever been easy here, there have always been problems but what has become of this camp is nothing short of deplorable. I do not have the words nor the literal skills to describe sufficiently the state of this camp, this supposed place of registration and temporary holding for over 2000 people.9 months in a tent is not temporary. 9 months with out an interview to even begin the asylum process is not “paperwork”. The over used excuse of this being “unprecedented”has run out after 2 years.

Since when and by whose conscience have we as a race of people accepted that abandoning families , men , women and children to a small summer camping tent, on a steep incline on the side of a mountain heading in to a second winter is ok? That a camp built for 800 and now holding 2300 is safe? A camp with no evacuation plan in case of emergency, with no water regularly for toilets and showers for over 2000 people )already this week we were without water for 3 days running) . An “extended area” otherwise known as a field! to the side of the camp where tents are pitched in mud and on rocks, where there is no light once the sun goes down. Where campfires are the only form of heating and attempts at cooking to supplement the extremely unhealthy food rations handed out.

This week alone, Derek and I walked to every inch of  the camp. We handed out tickets to every individual in a tent for extra blankets on behalf of the Hellenic red cross.We, HRC and Friendly Humans group ( Samos) handed out 1300 blankets that afternoon. This did not cover those in the ISO box metal containers. So, 1300 people are in tents! This week also, we provided every family in the camp who have children aged 6 months to 2 years with tins of baby formula. Milk for the children is rationed and many mama’s are unable to continue breastfeeding as they are very stressed, some are too ill and weak and most do not have enough nutrition in their own bodies to continue providing enough of their own milk. On Sunday,  Derek and I  handed out baby sleeping suits and small sleeping bags to every child in the camp. Sadly, by the time Mondays forecasted storm came, many of these items were drenched and useless…And the same is forecast for tonight again. As I type heavy rains and strong winds are bashing Samos . Most of today was spent trying to help dry out tents, clothes, blankets and children. Men were scrambling for rocks to tie down tents and paletts to help raise the tents off puddles of water.

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Each week at our regular cafe nights ( Sunday, Wednesday and Friday) we ,with the Friendly Humans group, distribute kettles, cookers, strollers along with the usual tea, coffee and juice. All needed but they are just band aids for the bigger problems, the problems not being dealt with.And this comes back to bureocracy, authority, EU , money, personnel and in fighting. It comes back to war, conflict, land grabs, occupation and greed. It comes back to the complicity of silence among nations not ( yet) affected.

Samos camp itself is a health hazard. It smells, badly. The lack of running water means toilets overflow, drains clog and stagnant water sits on the ground. Rubbish collects in piles. Camps are pitched squeezed between containers and concrete walls for shelter. To access these tents means a single person must shuffle sideways between them. Ropes are strung up for laundry, campfires are lit in precarious sites, shoes are left outside, makeshift chairs or tables are in the way. This is all because of over crowding, too slow processing of paperwork, much too slow movement of people and authorities and large organisations still pretending to know what they are doing. In the event of a fire, there is no escape for large sections of this camp. It is a disaster waiting to happen, not if but when.

There are options, many have been muted several times but none are taken up. We have been to other camps, ( not hotspots) which although still fighting slow processing and red tape are at least maintained and managed with a degree of hygiene, efficiency and solidarity. Here in Samos the volunteers and some of the smaller NGO’s do their best but lately even we are fighting for the right to stay, help and observe… Personally, I think the observation is causing the most distress to those in Authority!

So, we continue with asking for help with the band aids, we continue to do what we can and we will continue to fight for the rights and justices of all to be given refuge with as much compassion, decency and dignity as they so deserve. No part of what we do can continue with out your support.

To offer assistance , Please donate via paypal @

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

Or via Go fund me

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

For Bank details Please email us. To offer suggestions for help or to just contact us , please also email at

jennygraham7@gmail.com.

We can be found on Facebook @ No more borders No more tears

Twitter #nomoreborders1

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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!

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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:

PAYPAL      https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=6N9E4XQ36XGJL

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

 

Or go fund me page , No more borders No more tears

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

or message or email  jennygraham7@gmail.com   for bank details

As ever, Thank you…

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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

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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. 

http://volunteering.force.com/OpportunityDetail…

’Labhair Tuairisc.ie le Derek Graham, as Béal an Átha, Co Mhaigh Eo, a chaith an bhliain dheireanach seo ar Oileán Samos na Gréige ag obair i gcampa dídeanaithe…

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http://tuairisc.ie/tuairisc-on-ngreig-ta-formhor-na-dteifeach-cosuil-liomsa-no-leatsa-na-cuir-faoi-ghlas-iad-lig-isteach-iad/

Thanks to Ruairi Henchy for this article and all his support.

https://www.gofundme.com/no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhgrag

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

Winter mission appeal

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October 2016 and winter is approaching fast along the Greek / Albanian border where we are preparing to spend the next few months. After spending a year in the refugee camp in Samos island (and the last 3 weeks here in Ireland) It is time to relocate. Samos is still in need of help but has many wonderful volunteers, including the local groups, who are all still distributing and assessing needs and with continued support will no doubt work throughout the winter. For Derek and I, experience has taught us that we are best suited to a more frontline basis. We recall the winter months in Greece last year as we carried victims and survivors from boats and coast lines, working  the nightshift with a skeleton crew when NGO’s clocked off for the night, walking the port camp in cold, wet windy nights to ensure those without cover had at least blankets, those without food were fed, those in need of medical attention received it and those just arriving were met with support, hope and attention. Sometimes it was just   sitting around a campfire to listen to someone in need of a friend.

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There are now hundreds and hundreds of people stranded on the Greek Albanian border. Many have been there for months. They wait in tents, they build fires to stay warm, and they watch the authorities, armed guards, patrolling the borders in case anyone would dare take the next step to achieving safety or refuge. They face in to another winter of misery, cold, fear, of losing hope in Europe, in mankind, in Humanity. These camps in the North of Greece have little to no infrastructure and will be the first to face the winter. Flooding is common and another hazard to face. Some will no doubt face death, hunger, violence. The Greek Albanian border is hostile in places. Forests with warnings to be alert for bears and wolves, jagged mountains and deep abysses are regularly patrolled. In March, Albanian and Italian police started joint patrols of the border in a bid to stop migrants traveling onward into Europe. Many if not all of those seeking refuge that are now stranded on the border have already gone through one of the Island camps. They have gone through the humiliations we have witnessed in Samos, the lack of information, bad nutrition, uncertainty and inadequate housing. They will already be stressed, unhealthy, exhausted and now face winter in yet another camp. On top of all this, reports are coming in to us of deportations starting again this week and depression at an all time high in the camps  leading to the suicide by burning attempt of one individual so far.

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So, we ask again, in fact we are pleading for one more big effort this year. Our plan is to arrive with just the basics and to make a needs assessment on arrival. We hope to have enough funding to make at least part of the living conditions more bearable. As human rights activists we will protest the living conditions, fight for more forthcoming information and a right to refuge and as humanitarians we will try to improve basic needs and rights. We will restart our go fund me page for donations, our PayPal and bank account will remain the same as always ( Irish in Gaza account) and our updates will continue as before on our blog ( Irish in Gaza) and on our Facebook page ( No more borders No more tears). Please continue to share the updates and email us if you  have offers of help or suggestions of alternative ways to help. If you can donate, please please do. All donations received go directly to those seeking safety.

It has been a long hard Summer for so many but winter, with its cold and its darkness, Christmas in all its loneliness for so many and the prospect of facing into another year of war, conflict, death, fear and hatred is more than some of these  people can face. Please do what you can to help us help them.

PAYPAL :  http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

GO FUND ME:  https://www.gofundme.com/no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhgrag

As always, we deeply and genuinely appreciate all your support over many years and hope that these friendships ( new and old) will continue. Thank you .Derek and Jenny.

Facebook: No more borders No more tears

Twitter:     @nomoreborders1

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UEFA’s discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian national flag was once again in focus last week when Glasgow giants Celtic met Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Champions League in front of …

Source: UEFAs Discrimination of Palestine

20160628_171948 20160628_172006 20160629_182301 20160818_150118 20160818_150402 20160818_150436 20160818_150456Proud to hand over a de-fibrillator and ECG machine to Dr Manos Logothetis here in Samos. The machine, along with a huge supply of other medical equipment including catheters, tubes for drips etc was donated to us thanks to the amazing support of Dominic Murray, Unison and the Royal Victoria Hospital , Belfast and will be used ( though hopefully never needed) in the Samos refugee camp and /or Ambulance for the camp , depending on the situation at the time. As always, Thank you Dominic ( pictured at the handover in Ireland before we left again for Greece)for all your help. We are in need of more of the adult pads (pictured) , if someone can help out with this, please get in touch.
http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by (paypal link)

https://www.gofundme.com/278zukw4

The Arab / Israeli conflict in 10 points. An absolute must read, brilliantly written and factual. Please take the time to read ( Link Below to the Irish times)

Literally , “The Times ” they are a changing!

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-arab-israeli-conflict-in-10-points-1.2754159