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#NoBorders: Number of refugees trapped on Greek islands reaches new high

In the past 2 months we focussed on the Bosnian/Croatian border, on July 19 two people of the Enough is Enough team will travel to Bosnia again with members of the Cars of Hope collective. On the Greek islands the situation is also getting worse and worse. The self-organized Pipka camp is under threat of eviction.

Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.

According to the Greek reporter a total of 17.771 refugees are trapped on the Greek islands now. The new figures were released by the Greek ministry of interior. According to the ministry 9.472 refugees are on Lesvos.

14.567 people are forced to live in state run camps on Lesvos, Chios, Kos and Leros. The total capacity of the totally overcrowded camps on these islands is 6.338. The remaining 3.204 people are staying out in the open. People continue to arrive so the numbers are growing. Since the EU / Turkey deal people are trapped on the Greek islands.

While 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 reasons to close the self-organised Pipka camp on the Greek island.

If you ever saw the hygiene standards and sanitary facilities in the state run Moria camp, it’s more than just cynical that local authorities threaten to close the Pipka camp because of the sanitary facilities and hygiene conditions at the self-organized camp. Pipka is also being sued by several hotels and local authorities are happy to support the law suit. 

On Friday the trial against Pipka took place. On Saturday Pipka wrote of their Facebook page: “Yesterday the trial took place against Pikpa. A decision will follow later, after some more documents from both sides have been delivered to court. The initiative for the court case came from hotel owners and some individuals in the neighbourhood. The hotels association and the Municipality of Lesvos also intervened in favour of the hotel owners. After the hearing, the judge and the lawyers went to Pikpa for an inspection.

In parallel, an appeal is submitted against the decision of the Region of North Aegean, which considers Pikpa a danger to public health and the environment.

These are crucial days and weeks for Pikpa. Please keep showing your support. Spread and post in the SAVE PIKPA Facebook group and help us grow the SAVE PIKPA community, next goal: 10.000! All messages will be delivered to the political decision makers: https://web.facebook.com/groups/633160610380429/ “(Warning Facebook Link).

On June 29, the North Aegean regional governor announced the closure of Pikpa camp. The announcement came on the day of the last EU summit, a summit that decided to fight refugees and life savers on the Mediterranean sea but also to tighten several restrictions that should prevent refugees from travelling to other EU member states. The summit also spoke about locking up people in state run camps at the EU borders. Of course the EU language of locking up people in state run camps was different: the heads of state of the EU member states call it “controlled and secure camps.” The Pipka camp is a self-organized camp and people are not locked up, and although Pipka didn’t speak about the reults of the EU summit, this might actually be the reason that authorities want to close Pipka.

Here is the full Pipka press release of July 3:

Lesvos Solidarity reacts to the reports regarding the announcement by the Region of North Aegean to close down the open, self- organised space of PIKPA in Neapoli due to the report by the Hygiene Service, which considers it dangerous to public health and the environment.

Firstly, we would like to stress that Lesvos Solidarity is proud to offer support to the guests of this open, self-organized space of PIKPA together with other organisations, groups and volunteers who have been doing so since 2012, when the space started to be used for the needs of the refugee population. Our common efforts have turned PIKPA into an example of solidarity, known around the world, internationally recognized and even awarded.

We also want to clarify that Lesvos Solidarity has its headquarters at Mosaik Support Centre. The main activity of the organisation is to support the refugee and local population at Mosaik; and wherever support is needed.

No ownership – either written or verbally – has been given to Lesvos Solidarity by any authority, which would allow the Region of North Aegean or the Public Health Service to refer to our organisation as the manager or the coordinator of the space.

The problems with the broken net in the food distribution area, the leak in a water tank for the laundry machines and the deficiencies in the common kitchen area, where the refugees cook their own food, have already been addressed by the groups and volunteers who support PIKPA and they have been fixed.

The intervention of the Hygiene Service raises serious questions with regards to the extreme severity shown towards PIKPA in contrast to the tolerance towards the hygiene conditions in the Moria hotspot, which are reported daily by locals, institutions, residents, organisations and by the local, national and international press. What kind of investigation has been carried out by the Hygiene Service in the Moria hotspot and what kind of measures have been taken by the responsible authorities and the Region?

Moreover, the Hygiene Service inspected PIKPA in a period when 1000 Kurdish refugees had left Moria camp after fighting broke out. 350 of them ended up in PIKPA camp and the groups supporting PIKPA made a huge effort to give them temporary shelter for three weeks in order to avoid their stay in parks and beaches in town.

It is to be noted that those refugees created no problems in the space of PIKPA neither when it comes to the hygiene conditions nor to the environment or the safety of the area. On the contrary, their stay in parks and public spaces would have put them in danger and would have potentially caused tensions with parts of the local community.

We are puzzled by the fact that the Hygiene Service – although it was aware of the emergency situation in the island those days – refers to the 350 Kurdish refugees and refers to “crowded living accommodation” in PIKPA, whereas there is no reference or report about the exposure of these people to the dangers and extreme overcrowding in Moria hotspot, particularly after the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal which has trapped thousands of people in our island.

We also find it striking that the Region of North Aegean and the local authorities act against the only informal shelter that offers dignified solutions all these years, instead of acknowledging the support offered by groups in PIKPA and their immediate and effective response to the recent emergency.

Moreover, as soon as the temporary emergency with the Kurdish refugees in PIKPA camp started, this extraordinary situation has been used against PIKPA camp. Apart from sending several inspection services to the camp in this period, a court case was launched by several hotel owners from the neighbourhood and a few individuals, which will be heard on 6 July. For all these reasons, we consider this decision to close PIKPA camp a political move by certain actors who are opposing the model of solidarity that PIKPA camp represents.

Lesvos Solidarity – among many other groups and thousands of volunteers – has contributed to the maintenance and improvement of the infrastructure and hygiene conditions in the space of former PIKPA. It has helped and supported the PEDI of Lesvos with machines and materials, as well as the hospital, and has played a key role in the installation of a special refrigerator in the morgue of Vostanio Hospital of Mytilene, contributing to the protection of the public health and preserving the dignity of each person in our island.

We are calling on the Region of North Aegean to reconsider their decision while showing respect to the dignified shelters in the island and the dramatic situation in Moria camp, and to take a position on what is happening in Moria camp concerning the protection of public health, security and the environment. We also invite the Region to respect the work and the efforts of thousands of people that created and maintain PIKPA as an international symbol of solidarity.

Since the announcement of the closure went public we have received numerous messages of support from international, national and local organisations, institutions and groups and from citizens from all over the world.

We declare as active citizens that we support the efforts in PIKPA and that we will keep going, since nowadays places of solidarity and spaces of dignified shelter are more important than ever.

Pipka, Lesvos Solidarity, July 3, 2018.

The situation on the Greek islands could explode soon as more and more people are stuck and the EU member states do just about anything to stop refugees from coming to the European continent. Apart from the repression against life savers at sea, state violence and repression are also increasing at several land borders. Illegal push-backs from Croatia to Serbia or Bosnia are a common daily praxis now. More and more people are stuck in countries like Bosnia.

Support Enough is Enough and Cars of Hope at the Bosnian/Croatian border

On July 19 two people of the Enough is Enough team will join the Cars of Hope collective in Bosnia to work together with refugees and to produce independent border monitoring reports from the Bosnian/Croatian border. Read the reports of our last stay in Bosnia: here.

We urgently need financial support to maintain the supplies for refugees and to be able to keep on building emergency shelters.

Please donate for food, tents and other things for everyday life.

The Cars of Hope bank account details:

Bank: Volksbank in Bergisches Land

Account holder: Hopetal e.V.

Description: Cars of Hope

IBAN: DE51 3406 0094 0002 9450 87

BIC: VBRSDE33XXX

Mutual Aid: Support Refugees in Bosnia

Support the work with refugees in Bosnia.

€1.00


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