On Wednesday April 24, 17 refugees (12 from Afghanistan and 5 from Syria) detained by the coast guard of Lesvos started a protest against the detention conditions
First no one wanted to register them (thus without papers they cannot leave the island) and when they are finally arrested (in order to be registered), they remain detained under inhuman conditions. Among the refugees small children, sick persons, young mothers and other vulnerable groups. The 12 Afghan refugees on hunger strike have been detained now for more than 12 days in the yard of the coast guarrd where they are constantly exposed to the sun (30 degrees celsius). In total they spent already almost 40 days on the island most of which they were homeless in the beginning when authorities denied registering them. Then they spent some days in the self-organised welcome center PIKPA which is run by the network “Village-ofall-together” until they were finally arrested.
Sans papiers arriving in Lesvos cannot leavethe island unless they get arrested and registered whereafter they receive a so called White Paper which is valid usually only for a period of 30 days. This paper legalises them for the given period of time within which they should leave the country by their own means. Anyway it is no travel document. Syrian refugees by a Ministerial Decision are given a period of six months instead of one.
A group of 10 Syrian refugees (out of 26 in total currently) was released upon pressure by the network “village-of-all-together” but as if for revenge they were given white papers only valid for 30 days instead of 6 months.
As refugees continue to arrive on Lesvos island the network “village of all together” has transferred again almost 50 persons to PIKPA self-organised and open reception camp.
On Saturday 2nd of February 2013, 26 refugees – mostly Afghans and Syrians – were transferred to PiKPA. They were detained more than a week in the police station of Mytilene under very bad conditions.
“We couldn’t even lie down,”
some of them said. Upon release they received a deportation order (so called “White Paper” valid for 30 days) by the police and found themselves homeless on the streets since the strike of the seafarers had paralyzed the general ferry traffic between mainland and islands. The freed refugees were desperate not knowing where to go. As we had promised earlier this year as network “the village of all together” no refugee should stay anymore homeless and helpless in the streets. So we decided to take them to PIKPA.
On February 4th another 14 people were released from detention. We went to the police station and demanded them to be transferred directly to PIKPA. Today more refugees might be released and brought to PIKPA. We are preparing food for 50 persons today.
All of these people have suffered from the hazardous travel of the sea endangering their lives repeatedly to reach a safe haven in Europe. The strict controls on both sides of the Aegean, by Turkish Gendarmes and Greek Coast Guard / Frontex on the other side, make the border crossing a matter of life and death. At the same time weather conditions are creating additional dangers for the small, overcrowded and often insufficiently equipped dinghy boats. One of the refugees said:
“Three times we were caught by the Gendarmes. The fourth time we almost died in the huge waves.”
The interview was held by Ilias Maravas for EPA Aigaiou
I remember that I arrived at the shore. I looked for them but I couldn’t find anyone. Then I remember that I woke up in the hospital.
The only survivor of the refugee tragedy of Friday near Lesvos island is a 16-year-old from Bamiyan in Afghanistan. He had entered a dinghy with 28 other Afghans on Friday when after one hour the dinghy started getting into distress and water entered the boat. It turned around and they all fell into the sea. Continue reading Interview with the survivor of the ship tragedy in Lesvos→
Since yesterday (28.11.12) the civil society has managed to temporarily win the struggle for an open first reception centre with the authorities agreeing to transfer all the unregistered to PIKPA – a place also used once before during noborder Lesvos 2009 for the same purpose. About 70 refugees – among them pregnant women, small children and even a 10-day-old baby. Immediately both police and citizens started bringing even a few more freshly arrived. PIKPA is a summer camp construction, which is now not in a condition to be inhabited, thus, the local population together with the refugees try to make it more comfortable, to re-store the water connections etc. and to bring food for the persons hosted there. This ad hoc solution still needs a lot of support in order to become an official open reception centre, now still being a temporary solution. There is a great need of support of any kind! Continue reading Call for Solidarity→