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Taking a Shower at #Moria on #Lesvos: Christmas 2017 in #Europe

I arrived in the Moria camp in the early afternoon. It’s December the 25th and so its Christmas. Like always the smell of burning plastic was everywhere. While many people were celebrating the birth of a refugee in Bethlehem, who was born about 2000 years ago, I went to the Moria camp on Lesvos.

Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all the Enough is Enough reports about RefugeesGR; here.

Taking a Shower at Moria on Lesvos: Christmas 2017 in Europe!

I arrived in the Moria camp in the early afternoon. It’s December the 25th and so its Christmas. Like always the smell of burning plastic was everywhere. While many people were celebrating the birth of a refugee in Bethlehem, who was born about 2000 years ago, I went to the Moria camp on Lesvos.

In Europe, the U.S. and Australia (to name a few) many people celebrate Christmas with what I call “consume terror” (in the old days people gave each other a small present): Many people there eat and drink more then many people in other territories on the planet do in a month during the Christmas days. While they are eating or test their new 3D Flat screen TV many of them speak about “christian values” and altruism. Although I am not exactly a religious person, I sometimes feel like I am acting more on the basis of altruism then many “christian” people that speak about it during this cold winter days. Don’t talk; act!

To be honest; I don’t like Christmas for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is the hypocrisy of many people that are celebrating it. They often look strange when you tell them that you decided to go to a square and cook for homeless people during Christmas, something I did a couple of years ago. I saw the same look in some people’s faces when I told them I would go to Lesvos to work with refugees during Christmas. But not all people, some people.

Shortly before I arrived in the wild camp which popped up around the official military run Moria refugee camp, somebody of our team told me the European Union (EU) is blaming the Greek government for the conditions refugees are forced to live in on the Greek islands. So the blame game has started. That the EU is blaming the Greek government for the results of the EU deal with the Turkish state is cynical. It’s well known that Merkel’s German government were the main architects of the EU/Turkey deal. It’s this deal that transformed the Greek islands into open air prisons for refugees.

I started to smell burning plastic, so I knew we (Me and a few members of the Cars of Hope collective) were about to arrive at Moria. In the past days we distributed many many nappies and baby food and the shops were closed. During the distribution we noticed that many people just wanted to talk and often they had many questions. So we decided to go to Moria and take the time to answer questions as good as we can and talk with people. There were many questions that we could answer, others we couldn’t so we also started to collect links with information about the legal situation and asylum procedures that we will spread in the coming days. But as I wrote above; many people just wanted to talk. To see a new face and exchanging thoughts was important for many people. Some of them are stuck on Lesvos for more than 18 months now. 18 months of waiting, 18 months of living in these inhuman conditions and trying to survive.

We spoke with a Syrian young man who has papers to travel to Athens on the Greek main land since 3 months but when he goes to the ferry he was told again and again; no not today. At one point he got angry and was arrested. Another man was worried about his family and told us he was asking himself day after day when he would see his family again. An Afghan woman told us she is afraid to go to the toilet at night because she is to afraid. Many adult women wear nappies at night because they have fear to go out at night. Tension is rising in this overcrowded refugee camp full of desperate people and often the police doesn’t come at all or very late when there is a fight.

One of us asked a women; How long are you here? One month. The woman came from the eastern part of Syria. Asked where her child was born, she answered in the hospital. Her baby is four days old and she became nothing for her baby. Nothing. She said she didn’t get any help from Moria officials and she and her baby are sleeping in a tent. Tomorrow we will buy some stuff for the baby. Things like a blanket, clothes, nappies, baby powder etcetera. Another woman will give birth in the coming days. We will also by baby stuff for her.

Some of the people I spoke with didn’t even want to go to Northern-Europe. They told me that they already would be happy when they would reach the Greek main land. Although some of them were aware of the fact that the economical crisis is ongoing in Greece, they were convinced they could build-up their life again in places like Athens or Thessaloniki. Others had many questions about the border closures in Europe as they wanted to go to other European countries. All of them wanted to leave the island because they see no future for them here. The life in the camp is destroying them and they know it. They live in these inhuman conditions day by day. Many people are also aware of the two faces of the German government. The welcoming one, and the one which is deporting more and more people and designed the EU/Turkey deal which is the reason that so many people are stuck on the Greek islands.

We stayed much longer as we had planned on this Christmas day. Many people had so much issues they wanted to talk about. In the official Moria Camp we saw stockpiles of trash again because the Greek state doesn’t seem to bring the trash to the garbage dump anymore. We also saw people sleeping in the open air, including little children. New arrivals on Lesvos first have to sleep outside with temperatures at night between 4 and 5 degrees Celsius.

Some of the refugees showed us a flexible tube with cold water outside of the Moria camp. A local farmer has build this provisional shower because the showers inside the camp are so dirty that many people don’t want to take a shower there. In Moria people mostly also have to take a shower with cold water. A woman told us that they have hot water for a couple of hours per day; when they are lucky… About 50 meters away from the provisional shower outside the Moria camp people are using a big field as a toilet for the same reason; the toilets inside Moria are to dirty.

After a long day of talking with people, and secretly shooting videos and taking pictures (both is forbidden in and around the Moria Camp), we drove back to Mytilini. I never talk a lot when we drive back from the camp to the capital of Lesvos island. Actually we all don’t. My head is always full with the images I saw and I try to control my anger and sadness. Actually its not really working, my anger is growing day by day and sometimes I have tears in my eyes. When we came back to Mytilini we immediately started to upload all the videos and images in several clouds, so comrades at home are able to download it again and to make copies. We always want to make sure that it isn’t possible to stop people from publishing and spreading the material, even when authorities would confiscate our hard drives the material will be spread. After we finished we drove to our apartment.

There are indications that Greek police will deport Hesam tomorrow. Hesam was on hunger strike for a long time and was arrested last month. Since then he is imprisoned.

The Greek government is issuing statements that they are planning to transfer many people to Crete and the Greek main land. According to Greek media the Syriza government is planning to reduce the amount of people in the Moria camp to 4000 people. Even when the Greek government will keep their promise, and often they don’t, this means that Moria will stay overcrowded. Officially the camp has a capacity for 2000 people. In other words; Thank you for nothing.

If we want to put an end to these inhuman conditions people are forced to live in, we will have to stop these xenophobic policies by EU member states (and states like the U.S. And Australia where there are similar government policies), we will have to organize more resistance. Everywhere. For many people who are seeking refuge the situation is so bad that I would be satisfied (for the moment) if we can put an end to border closures, deportations and the inhuman treatment of people on the Balkan route and other refugee hot spots across the world. In fact we are discussing to organize something in the EU capital, Brussels, when we return to northern Europe. Stay tuned!

Riot Turtle, December 25, 2017.


We arrived on Lesvos on December 17 to work with Refugees. We provide food, sanitary products and document the situation on the Greek island. In this video Sowmar tells that not all people came by boat to Lesvos.

You can support our work with refugees in Greece. You will find our crowdfunding campaing at https://www.youcaring.com/cohlesvos

PayPal account carsofhopewtal@gmail.com

 

1 thought on “Taking a Shower at #Moria on #Lesvos: Christmas 2017 in #Europe

  1. […] the state run Moria camp on Lesvos is totally overcrowded and has sanitary conditions that are more than just bad (See the video below that we made in the Moria camp in December 2017), authorities are looking for […]

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