Info board OHF

One Happy Family

November 2020

The first rain dismantled Moria 2.0 quickly and revealed it as another inhumane camp.
At One Happy Family some sort of routine is back and many activities have restarted.

The situation on Lesvos and in Greece

Covid-19 situation on Lesvos and in Greece
The first covid-related death in a refugee camp on the Greek mainland happened at the beginning of October. He was a 62 year old Afghan father of two and died in a hospital.
Covid numbers are rising fast in Greece. Between 2300 and 3200 positive tests per week were recorded in October. Some local lockdowns are in place on the Greek mainland. Asylum offices on the mainland have temporarily closed because their staff members have tested positive.
New cases are also reported on all the Aegean Islands and their camps. Health facilities and proper quarantine locations are still not available for migrants and refugees on the islands. Instead, authorities still try to put entire camps under quarantine, which seems only to increase the spread of Covid within these facilities.

Inhumane Moria 2.0 - worse than before
During October, around 7800 people were forced to live in the new camp in 1000 tents. Only around 230 tents have flooring. No adequate showers, toilets or any hygiene system are in place, although Switzerland provided substantial assistance to build a water infrastructure. As a result, most people must wash themselves in the cold, salty ocean as the only option to maintain minimal hygiene. This is not possible for women because the environment is insecure and overcrowded. Every day there are huge lines for food and, as said above, no health services are available. The people can currently leave Moria 2.0 between 8am and 8pm, in groups of 1000 people per hour.
Regarding all these extreme deficiencies, the UNHCR urges for improvements of the camp facility. The local authorities say they will come. The question remains when. They also announced that the temporary tent facility should be closed by Summer 2021. At the moment, a bid is out to build a new permanent structure, most likely in the form of a closed controlled camp.

Heavy rain on Lesvos
Several parts of the new camp flooded and tents were filled with water as the result of a downpour on the 14th of October. The water led to heavy damage as any form of drainage is simply non-existent. A person at the camp described the consequences of the rain; “All zones had varied levels of minor to extreme damage and no area was left unaffected. Families, elderly, disabled persons, single men and women were all impacted. Tents in the coastal areas were exposed to high gusts of wind which destroyed some shelters and lower lying areas were flooded with water stagnating in pools in and around tents.”
See what just one afternoon of rain did to the facility in this video. And winter is yet to come. This incident makes it clear that living in Moria 2.0 is not safe and that the evacuation of the island camps is still urgently needed.
Moria 2.0. after rain_Aegean Boat Report
moria 2.0 after rain_Aegean Boat Report_2
Pictures by Aegean Boat Report
New arrivals and push backs
While there are very few boat arrivals, reports of boats being pushed back by the Coast Guard come in steadily. UNHCR reports that 110 people arrived as of the 21st of October on the Aegean Islands, compared to almost 6000 in the same period last year.
As of the 21st of October, 24 boats have been stopped by the Turkish Coast Guard and only two have arrived on the Islands Lesvos and Chios. This makes a total of 668 boats stopped so far this year. 841 people have been illegally pushed back in 24 incidents in October alone. There is again clear evidence of Frontex’s involvement. You can find reports on push backs and even intentionally setting people back into the Mediteranean Sea here.

Closure of the former Camp of Kara Tepe
Initially it was planned that the people living in the former camp of Kara Tepe, which provided a safe space for mainly families, were to be transferred to the mainland. At the moment it seems that they will be transferred to Moria 2.0 as well.
Furthermore, Notis Mitarakis, the Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, announced again that his priority is to set up closed controlled centres in Greece including on the islands, with restricted hours for entry and exit as well as heavy surveillance.

Postponement of the eviction of Pikpa-Camp
The European Court of Human Rights requested a formal justification on the 20th October from the Greek authoritiesregarding why and when Pipka should be closed. This could be as a result of the petition to save Pipka that was supported by 160 NGOs and individuals such as OHF and you. Pikpa is a solidarity structure on the Island of Lesvos that hosts some of the most vulnerable refugees in dignified accommodation. With a community based approach, they created a spacewhere the people can feel at home, respected and are treated as equals.

Update: Pikpa Eviction
On Thursday 29th October 2020, without prior and official notice, Pikpa’s residents were evicted from their homes and will be brought to Kara Tepe. Everyone knew that this day will come and that the eviction was unavoidable. But this action shows that the local and national authorities have no interest in the wellbeing of the residents of Pikpa. For weeks, the people were waiting and fearing for this day to come, with little to no information about when and what is going to happen to them.

While camps, which are failing to meet basic humanitarian standards, are built and filled with people within days, those who build communities instead of camps are hindered and criminalised. This is yet another example for the failure of European migration policies that do not respect the basic human rights such as article 25 of the universal declaration of human rights: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care..."

We will never understand why people are not treated with respect and as equal human beings. Today and always, we stand in Solidarity with Pikpa, because “You can take the people out of Pikpa, but you can never take Pikpa out of the people”.

Situation on the other islands
Samos Camp has over 90 corona cases. MSF stated that “those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are isolated in terrible conditions with no access to medical treatment”. Also in Chios, at least 30 people have tested positive and the whole camp was set under quarantine a.k.a. lockdown.
Contractors to build closed controlled centers on Samos, Kos and Leros have already signed the project contracts. Read more here.
Unaccompanied minors as well as immunocompromised persons are prioritized to be transferred away from the camps to safer environments such as ESTIA apartments or to the mainland. About 2740 people, mostly children, departed the islands this way and in response to the fire.

7.0 Magnitude Earthquake in Aegean Sea
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake has hit both the Aegean Islands and Turkey, on Friday 30th October. The ground was shaking and OHF was evacuated outside until it was over. There has been extensive damage in Samos, Greece and Izmir, Turkey. We are starting to see flooding in Samos, and are worried that further waves and aftershocks could impact Moria 2.0 as it sits right on the sea. Luckily this didn’t happen, but the danger is there. Moria 2.0 is not safe.

Former MPs found guilty for violent attacks on immigrants
Former neo-nazi members of the Greek Parliament were sentenced to between 10 and 13 years in prison on the 14th of October in Athens. They were sentenced for being complicit in the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas and organizing multiple violent attacks against migrants and left wing activists. People on Lesvos, locals, refugees and NGO-members, have suffered from fascists attacks both verbally and physicallyduring these last years as well. This is why this prison sentence was well received in our working field.

Picture of the month

clinic MVI_sitting area_plants
Flowers in and around our beautiful clinic

Our partner Medical Volunteers International is not only a medical support but also a place where people who need help can have a little break. The clinic has been these days transformed again into a beautiful space with lots of green and flowers.

What can you do?

Speaking out against the criminalization of NGOs
Announced at the beginning of October, Greek authorities have prepared a case against 33 foreign members of four non-governmental organizations, reports KTC.com. The 33 people left Greece already so charges were not raised. The accusations seem again targeted against NGOs such as Mare Liebrum, Sea Watch FFMEC, Watch the Med and Josor and accuses them of assisting smugglers.

We, the One Happy Family, said it in 2017 and say it now: instead of criminalizing aid workers and NGOs, Europe needs to establish safe routes and #SafePassage. Rescuing lives is not a question of law but an obligation of human decency. By following the Greek authorities closely, you can signal to them that they are being watched and that the NGOs have the support of European civil society.

Media Updates

Watch and share: who started the fire in Moria?
BBC tries to put the events in the days around the fire in Moria together. With the help of the filmmakers of Refocus Media Lab.

News from the Community Centre

Daily life at OHF at the moment
OHF is back and running well, in its first full month of reopening. At any one time, we have 100-150 people on site, to align with social distancing and making sure the centre is COVID safe. The cafe is back serving coffee and tea, and the computer room, arts table and playground are now all back in business. Our opening hours for the Centre are from 10:00am to 14:00pm, with many projects and our community volunteering training (for English, Greek and computer classes) happening before or after these times. There is a good flow and energy in the spaces and OHF is once again filled with life. 

Clothes distribution
This month we partnered with Eurorelief and Oasis for an emergency clothes distribution for residents of the new camp. Eurorelief completed the ticketing, and around half of the families and single women residing in the camp visited the OHF bazaar to collect emergency winter clothing. It was a great and successful day!
OHF clothes distribution
First aid and fire-fighting training
The OHF team and our partners completed fire and first aid training from our volunteer Daniel and Medical Volunteers International. It was a great day and we all learnt so much; from putting out fires using fire extinguishers, using radios properly, learning how to safely evacuate OHF and putting people in the recovery position. We are ready and prepared to safely and effectively manage emergency situations both at OHF and in the community.
emergency training OHF
emergency training fire fighting
We have had a great response to reopening, with many community volunteers wanting to support projects at the community center. We are also in need of volunteers, who have the time to self quarantine on arrival or who are already in Greece or on Lesvos. We are looking for short and long term volunteers, the shortest term bein 3 weeks (plus 1 week of self-quarantine for those coming from outside of Greece). Mid- and long term volunteers are especially needed to support the Cyber Café and teach computer classes as well as English classes.
Please fill out the application form on our website https://ohf-lesvos.org/en/volunteering/ to discuss the suitability and timing of volunteering with us. 

Now that we are back on our feet and everything is running, we see additional costs coming up to make OHF safe regarding COVID, but also for the winter. We also have these not so fun administrative costs, like registration fees, office supplies etc.

Donate for our invisible costs and become the hero of the administration of One Happy Family.

What an unpopular word, what an unpopular task.
We prefer to sweep the admin under the carpet, postpone it until later, ignore it and above all we don't like to spend money on it.
Unfortunately, nothing is possible without admin and it is part of every project and if done well, it can make a lot of things easier.
Today we would like to take a look at the admin work in One Happy Family, which is often done by our team in the evening, at the weekend or sometimes until late at night.
There is an enormous list of administrative tasks that have to be done to manage the Community Centre in a structured and professional way. From the preparation of training plans, cleaning plans, registration of visitors and students to daily bookkeeping, preparation of work contracts, documentation for donors and registration of the NGO in Greece, there is something for every team member.
Most of the tasks are done by the board, the coordination team and volunteers, but there are some things that cannot be done without money and the team on the ground must also be able to cover their living expenses.
For these few costs we need your support!
It is extremely important to us to be transparent and to use the donations of our supporters according to their wishes. In order to ensure that the general donations go mainly to the projects and the centre itself, we call on you to support our 4 biggest "invisible" costs!
Donate specifically for our 4 invisible costs: accounting, registration, team support and registration tools at https://ohf-lesvos.org/en/donate/
Use the code #ADMIN or #TEAM as payment purpose and receive personal greetings from the admin office on Lesbos!
Bureaucratic greetings!
invisible costs_2
invisible costs_25

Inside the projects: partners

Upon reopening, we have many of our partners, both old and new, restarting their projects at OHF. The Wave of Hope (a new partner, who used to run a school inside Moria), is holding reading and writing classes for women and children. We have two community volunteers who are also running painting classes. Our long term partners, the School of Peace, are currently running adult English classes and have started a leadership program for youth. It acts as a buddy system, wherethe older children lead and mentor younger children at the school. This project is going very well, with 20 youth already participating.

ReFocus Media and the Makerspace are both back with a bang! ReFocus is still running the media workshops, while Makerspace is back creating power banks, servicing bicycles, and creating wonderful other bits and pieces. Yoga and Sports are back with an updated schedule, and MVI are supporting psychological interventions for children and adults, both in the new camp but also in the onsite clinic. Our other great project is the Greek dance classes being held every friday.

Meet the family: Aref

Aref copy
Meet Aref.
Happy to help anyone in any way he can, Aref has opted to spend all of his days as a volunteer: Monday to Friday at OHF, and his weekends at Movement on The Ground.
Although he is a skilled tailor, Aref is happy to put his hand and mind to anything, in or out of his volunteer work: whether that means cleaning, translating, or finding information on the help available for a pregnant woman in the camp.
Although Aref is an Afghan, he has never seen his home country, having been born a refugee in Iran. He believes that 'knowledge is the best tool to fight ignorance, injustice and lack of culture' and hopes that one day all the people of his country will be literate so that they can educate themselves and make a better future. Aref loves to read and his favourite book, which he highly recommends is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
On a personal level, Aref's biggest dream is to be a successful business man and he has already begun to formulate a plan to achieve this goal.
He remembers falling in love with Manchester United watching David Beckham in the 90's. Like many men born in the 80's, he would love to visit Old Trafford one day, and one of his more fun dreams is off talking to Alex Ferguson.
He is living in dire conditions in the new camp with his elderly mother who has diabetes, but knows that he must make the most of this time as he is hopeful that soon she will be moved to somewhere more suitable. Even just running water and a floor would be an improvement from their current 'home': a tent in the new camp.
He will be very happy for her, if she is lucky enough to be chosen to move, however, he knows that he will also be very sad to be alone for the first time, as the rest of his family have already been moved, whilst he remains bound to the island by inhumane, inexplicable and inexcusable European politics.
We are very honoured to have Aref in our team. Thank you so much!
Content: Bridget Chivers, Isabelle Kaufmann, India Ashworth, Fanny Oppler, Fabian Bracher, Jael Tobler
Date: 30.10.2020
One Happy Family | https://ohf-lesvos-org | info@ohf-lesvos.org | @ohflesvos
CH23 0079 0016 9736 1524 7 (CHF) | CH36 0079 0016 9737 1172 2 (EUR)
CH-3400 Burgdorf, Switzerland
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