There is vexation, frustration, fear and upset all across Aegean islands. Locals are venting passionately and angrily at governments, NGOs, refugees, the EU. The pain they experience as their island dynamic changes around them, and their feelings of distrust and fear, are not without reason .
Yes, refugees are an acutely vulnerable group but, so too, are local Greek residents. We must not forget that Greek people are also suffering without support.
We have on going protests in Chios and our island is in a state of lock down. Refugee camps must not, cannot be the next target. Neither should any of us loudly, negatively, critically judge the majority of Greek protesters on these Aegean hot-spots. We should stand peacefully with them as they demonstrate against Detention Centers designed to cage humans up in.
Now, more than ever, we have reached a humanitarian crises point, one which was always very avoidable. The emergency in the Aegean is not borne of those on camp, nor has it been created by Greek natives.
People on all sides are hurting, there are no winners here.
Landing Updates 14.02.20 – 28.02.20
In the last 2 weeks we have attended to 265 people at 10 different landings.
On Wednesday the 19th there were 4 landings in less than 12 hours.
The next day there was a landing in Nenita. As the team arrived to the scene, the weather became very stormy and wet. In challenging terrain the team responded very effectively and helped those in need to get into the good quality dry clothes, which we are able to provide thanks to all of our donors and supporters.
For our team, as soon as a donation comes through the door of our warehouse, it becomes part of landing support. It is sorted to the correct area and then gender and size, packaged into our landing stock and ready to be used when we do get the call from SMH, who attend the landings with us.
Without this preparation and dedication from so many different people and organisations supporting our work, our work would not be possible. We fortunate that in a very undignified time for the new arrivals, we are able to distribute clothes and coats that are of quality, or in other words items that we can be sure to give with a smile.
Still, the conditions that these people go on to find in Vial camp are beyond a disgrace and violate every piece of humanity within us all. We have repeatedly reported on the situation in Vial, particularly the so-called ‘jungle’. There appears to be no end in sight and no solution forthcoming for the multitude of issues living in such conditions leads to.
We believe that European nations should act and take in more people to relive the enormous pressure placed upon Greece these past 5 years, particularly the Aegean islands, and welcome the people who continue to needlessly suffer at the doorstep of Europe. We are strongly against the construction of detention centres on the islands. This will lead to further suffering for the people, and also continue to keep people trapped on the Greek islands and ensure that no fair or humane solution will be found for every stakeholder in this crisis.
We are in the midst of a Solidarity Crisis, that is solidarity with asylum seekers and with Greek people, who have been forced to deal with all of the issues that arise from thousands of people being stuck in humane conditions, every single day.
Vial Cleaning Update:
We have not been able to go cleaning as often as we would like in the past fortnight because of storms and Landings. After the bad weather, we focused a lot of time on tent fixing over Cleaning because there was a great need. The situation with the rubbish on Vial Camp is now as bad as it was in December – this concerns us greatly. There is a lot of rubbish everywhere and it is building up in huge piles. Along with our determined and proactive community volunteers who live in Vial, we have been simply trying to bag the mounds of rubbish and move them into the waste collection area. The support has been huge and positive. People do not want to live in filth, and they do not want the environment in Greece to suffer.
Vial Tent Fixing Update:
At the same time as we are cleaning, we have a small team of volunteers who fix damaged tents on camp. These tents, which are flimsy and inadequate at best, have holes punctured in them (which let water in during heavy rainfalls). They are easily battered and broken by strong winds and are not secure or stable at the foundations (which mean sewage water and mud can run in to the floor space). Simply they are not fit for humans to live in – the fact that families, children, the elderly and infirm must cohabit in these dwellings is shameful.
As a means to improve the structures, strengthen the tents and fix the damage we have been filling holes and sealing with duct tape. Along with camp residents we have also been digging small trenches around people’s outer ground space to make trenches to collect running water into and using tarp to insulate, strengthen, protect and secure people’s tents against stormy weather. It has been a huge and, thus far, successful team effort on this front.
Emergency projects update.
In the past two weeks we achieved a lot! We visited the football stand twice. First we cleaned it and gave the top wall a fresh coat of white paint ready for Wednesday. We took a small team of volunteers to spend the whole day painting the top wall. Having contacted a camp resident, who is an artist, he joined us to help design and lead this project. With other camp residents joining throughout the day it was a great community building project.
We painted mainly flowers, however we allowed the resident helpers to be as creative as they wanted. This has brought more colour to the football stand area, further adding to the atmosphere we are trying to create. This project has allowed for a small place in the camp to be bright and colourful for people to socialise. We will continue to maintain this space. The feedback from camp residents has been outstanding with many people grateful for a bright, clean area to spend time.
We also spent a morning measuring the areas we hope to install more steps. These areas are going to be more difficult to access and secure steps. Nonetheless, we will endeavour to provide the best assistance we can to help residents moving around the camp.
This week we have purchased wood and began building more steps. We hope this will completed and installed soon.
In the past 2 weeks we continued emptying our new container.
We filled up our warehouse stock since there have been several landings. Adding to that we continue to support other actors on the island.
1. We contributed to the ongoing distribution of children’s clothing and gave 25 bags of clothes and 18 bags of shoes to IRIS CENTRE.
2. F.E.O.X. received 27 sleeping mats, 11 boxes of nappies, 4 bags of men’s trousers, 6 boxes of men’s jumpers, 11 bags of women’s jackets, 10 boxes of men’s jackets, 4 boxes of sanitary pads and 1 box of hygiene products. Furthermore we gave 8 bags and 1 box of kid’s trousers, 9 bags of women’s shoes, 6 bags of kid’s shoes, 11 bags of sleeping bags, 2 boxes of men’s trousers and 5 boxes of kid’s clothes, 3 boxes of children’s toys, 20 boxes of biscuits(480 ), 3 boxes of soap, 1 box of children’s sleeping bags, 12 box of adult underwear and socks, 9 bags of children’s jackets and rain wear, 9 bags of towels and 7 boxes of children’s socks and underwear.
3. To ARSIS we gave 20 boxes of bisquits, 3 pairs of shoes and nappies sizes 2-6 ( 492 nappies + 17 packs).
4. SMH picked up 15 towels and we gave nappies and children’s hygiene products and clothes for medical emergency cases.
5. To Assist emergency supplies.
6. We gave 6 jars of baby food, 104 bottles of water, 100 packs of biscuits and 105 cakes to the PORT POLICE who we work very closely with and try to support at each landing.
10.KOSTAS KITCHEN who provides us with very delicious vegan lunch every day we gave 10 boxes if ginger bread.
11. To IOM who are supporting unaccompanied minors in Vial we gave 800 packs of biscuits, 95 hygiene packs and 18 packs of clothes, underwear, socks and jackets as well as toys, shoes and blankets for minors who have scabies and need a set of clothing during their treatment.
12. To BIRYANI AND BANANAS with 9 boxes and 8 bags of men’s shoes as well as manpower to sort through all the supplies that go to their ongoing distribution of men’s
13. To One family No Borders 100 hijabs, 100 hats, 700 jackets, 200 jumpers, 500 bras, 300 hygiene packs, 1000 pairs of socks, 552 soaps .
14.Prison of Chios :368 soap bars,256 pair of socks,720 packs of buiskits and duveis
A huge thanks to all our supporters and volunteers for their dedication.