OHf view new camp

One Happy Family

October 2020

After the total burn down of Moria Camp a migration Policy 2.0 is needed, no Moria 2.0. One Happy Family opened its doors for everyone in the middle of a chaos.

The situation on Lesvos and in Greece

Moria burnt down…
On the night of the 8th September, a fire broke out and destroyed the whole Moria RIC. The fire started in several locations inside the camp after 35 people were tested positive for COVID and were told to isolate themselves within the camp without any proper quarantine facility.
Over 12700 people had to flee the burning site. Children, Women and Men trying to rescue themselves from the fire were met with tear gas and road blockades by the police. At the end of September, the Police are investigating six young refugees for starting the fires. No one was injured by the fire.

12’700 people on the streets
Between the 8th and the 17th of September, the people from Moria RIC were forced to sleep outside, on the street and on the beaches with nothing but what they could rescue from the fire. A few people were temporarily sheltered in boats at the harbor. For the rest, food supply, shelter and sanitation installations were absent. Nonetheless, not a single person wanted to be back in Moria RIC.

NGOs such as One Happy Family once more stepped up and provided with support of local Greeks every support they could, which is of course by far not enough. Europe must act!
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People stand in line to get some food provided by NGOs, during the days left on the streets by themselves.

and now..?
A new “temporary” tent camp is built in the Kara Tepe area. It should have the capacity of 12’000 people. But. The tents do not fit any minimum standard, they are built without any kind of flooring, no isolation and sometimes not even sleeping options. On the 17th of September, people were huddled inside by massive police force. Media and journalists were not allowed inside the new setup. Most people did not want to enter the new facility, as they are afraid of being locked up again for several months inside and trapped in similar inhumane circumstances as in Moria RIC. However, they were left with little choice as the Greek authorities announced they will only proceed with asylum cases of the people who register in the new facility.

Inadequate reactions on the ground and from the politics
Tents are no adequate solution for the winter in Lesvos. The whole world learnt that in the winter 2015/16 when people froze to death, or died trying to stay warm. What is needed, is a political solution; a EU migration policy 2.0 not a Moria 2.0. The new EU Migration Compact announced on the 23rd of September has not solved the problems faced on the Aegean Islands. The new measures mostly focus on speeding up asylum processes but fail once more to establish a system where human dignity is granted and basic human rights are met.
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new camp_Nato_Lesvos
Pictures by Aegean Boat Report
You find more impressions from the new facility here: https://www.facebook.com/AegeanBoatReport/photos/pcb.924537871402651/924547721401666

The badly constructed new facility seems to fit into Greeks intention to deter people from coming to Lesvos. The inhumane conditions in Moria RIC to signal to people who wanted to cross the mediterranean sea: “it is bad over here, don't come here.” The new temporary structure enforces this message. The refusal of Greece to let 1500 refugees pass on to Germany is another sign of Greece’s acceptance of the suffering of human beings. Something that cannot and should not be accepted by the other European countries.

We have heard that the EU is willing to help. The only way to help is to create a consistent relocation scheme that can provide relief to the Greek government, its locals and asylum seekers. We know and are a testimony against the strong anti-migration policies that the Greek government has installed since its election in July 2019. With no durable solutions from the EU, the Greek government will only further its master plan of closed camps and push backs to deter people from reaching the hotspots.

Fast spreading of COVID
More than 240 cases are reported from the new temporary camp in Kara Tepe, as of the 21st of September. The first confirmed case of COVID was recorded on 2nd September, with 35 positive cases confirmed by the 9th September. The first reaction of officials was to put the whole old Moria camp under quarantine for two weeks without any additional health support inside the camp.
At the new facility, two quarantine zones have been announced, but not yet in place. The risk for COVID to spread in such a chaotic and devastating situation is quickly emerging. However COVID seems the last thing on people's minds; people are still trying to seek safety within one of the most inhumane conditions in Europe. On arrival to the new camp, all asylum-seekers are receiving the rapid PCR tests in order to monitor the spread of COVID.

Boat arrivals
The first boat that arrived this month was on September 6th with about 25 people on board, including women, men and children. This was the first boat arrival since August 12th. The worrying trend of rigorous push backs seems to continue: 24 boats have been stopped and denied entry into European waters whereas only 3 boats arrived on Lesvos until the 20th of September.

Number of People on the Aegean Islands
As of 18th September, the Greek government reports 12,767 people in Moria, although the camp does not exist anymore. A total of 14548 people are counted to be on Lesvos, 3746 on Chios, 4821 on Samos and around 3400 on the other Aegean Islands. This leads up to a total of over 26400 people currently stuck while Europe keeps discussing migration policies.
After the first confirmed COVID case in Moria RIC, transfers to the mainland were set on hold. After the fire, the EU announced to transfer 400 unaccompanied minors to the Greek mainland.
Moria kills_we need peace and freedom
Source: Douglas Herman, Founder Refocus Media Labs: https://www.facebook.com/refocusmedialabs
During the 10 days where people were left in the streets and at the beaches, a spontaneous demonstration sparked. Chanting women led big groups of peacefully demonstrating migrants and refugees with children towards Mytilini, demanding their freedom. The local police, backed up by a police reinforcement from the mainland, hindered the protest, by using tear gas against these women and children, from reaching Mytilini.

News from the Community Centre

Providing help after the fire is difficult

After the fire, the OHF team focused on providing health care everywhere where needed. The center stayed closed during this time. Reopening was scheduled for the 17th with the medical team of Medical Volunteers International restarting their clinic. The massive police force blocked all roads, in order to force the majority of people to enter the new camp.
The government also announced that the new camp will be under quarantine, but people still could enter and exit the site. This is what allowed the following very positive news:

Finally: OHF opens again for everyone!

The situation remains worrying but OHF is finally open again.
With numbers limited to 100 at a time and strict measures for COVID, we are now welcoming visitors from 10am until 2pm. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, families and single women, and on Tuesday and Thursday, just single men.
People can again spend their time in this positive environment, get a coffee or tea at the Café, use computers in the Cybercafé, charge their phones, borrow games or balls.
Everyone has to register so that we know exactly who is entering/leaving when - this for Covid-19 reasons and to be sure to be able to do contact tracing if needed.
On the first day around 15 people had heard that OHF opened again, the second day already 60 people came to the Community Center and enjoyed the area. Those first two days were very calm but happy days, just what we all need after the past few weeks.
The expectation is that on Monday 28th September, 100 people will join OHFs activities. With the different groups for different days, we already try to balance out the fact that we can only allow a maximum of 100 people in. Nevertheless we are afraid that we will have to tell people that they can’t enter and will need to wait. Once a person is leaving the ground we can allow another person in. And the entrance of the new camp is around a 10 min walk from OHF, so having to tell people to come back again another time is a little less harder than with the former distance - around one hour - from Moria RIC. Nevertheless, these are the first steps and we are happy to be able to provide the space for some people at least.
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Support of NGOs working inside Moria and the Olive Grove

The OHF had to remain closed for a long time and we would not be able to provide the usual and appropriate support to everyone. So, we mobilized our team and teamed up with other local grassroots NGOs to provide as much support as we could. Our team therefore helped with providing hygiene bags, supporting food distributions on the street and much more.
As you know, the police stranded the families on the road towards Mytilini, a few meters away from OHF. After four long days, they entered all the people in the now-former military shooting area where they have set up tents, the new camp.

We have seen the protests from the former residents of Moria. We have seen the large protests from Greek citizens around the country against the state policy. We are supporting this dedication that is providing us with a lot of energy to continue our work.
All together we are doing our best to help each other.

What can you do?

Not what we need!
Help create a social media storm to let the EU Commission know its Migration Pact is not the radical change that we need. Here is what you can do:

1: pick a text and post it with an image or video for Instagram, Facebook or Twitter from our social media pack, and start sharing.

2: Ask your friends, family and colleagues to share and sign the petition:

3: Get informed about the asylum and migration pact:

Enough is Enough!
Joining together with more than 200 organizations we demand European leaders to act.
The fire in Moria, and the treatment of people since then, highlights again, the many failures of the European migration policies. It shows that human rights are no longer valid for everyone and that not every human life matters to the politicians of Europe.
At the same time, we are seeing an increasing amount of solidarity within Europe. Many people are protesting for change again since the fire in the whole of Europe and are demanding action, now! We need to join together to make this happen!

We receive a lot of questions regarding donations. Many thanks!
As we still need some time to find our way in this chaos, we don’t feel comfortable to start a special fundraiser. For anyone who’d like to make a donation right now, we suggest medical NGOs specifically: Medical Volunteers International (medical-volunteers.org) and Médecins Sans Frontières (www.msf.org ).

Legal aid organizations are already overwhelmed, however they will need even more support now that the asylum process is on hold. It will be complete chaos once the asylum office reopens and resumes operation. We suggest specifically HIAS, Legal Centre Lesvos (https://www.hias.org/where/greece ), and Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid (www.fenixaid.org ).

PIKPA is an open, self-organised refugee camp in Mytilene, Lesvos. It is one of the few dignified accommodations left for refugees in very vulnerable situations including unaccompanied minors. Currently, it holds more than 100 people. The greek government wants to close it, so there is no alternative left to terrible facilities. Support Pipka and help save dignity by supporting their petition: https://www.facebook.com/groups/633160610380429
Content: Isabelle Kaufmann, Bridget Chivers, Jael Tobler
Date: 29.09.2020
One Happy Family | https://ohf-lesvos-org | info@ohf-lesvos.org | @ohflesvos
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