AYS Daily Digest 25/5/2017: Chios is at breaking point

By MSF Sea from today’s rescue mission. After 10 hours and 12th rescues there were 1449 people safely on board.

The two officials were surprised when we told them that people in Souda camp on Chios, are sleeping on the ground and that we had sent tents from Lesvos and attika. Our surprise was the same.So we checked the numbers on UNHCR site and also with our contacts on Chios and the information we got are smashing: Vial with official capacity 500, have 980 residents. Souda with official capacity around 500, have more than 1000 residents at the moment. The funny thing is that these officials told us that they just came from Chios. Obviously they hadn’t actually visited the camps… , URA wrote.

Two of our team members were held by police for 4 hours and were released on the grounds that the photos they had taken of toilets and conditions, inside and around the camp, were deleted. We believe this level of security exists because conditions are deteriorating rapidly. We have seen first hand the violent treatment of refugees by police who are “trying” to get off the island. Mainland Greece and Athens, not Germany, France or the UK is now the unattainable dream for so many people held here in an unsanitary limbo. According to the authorities, at least 3,000 people are penned in on the island, half in a makeshift camp, living in festival tents, the rest are in a razor wire topped detention centre.

Salem and I had filled my rental car with much needed food packages from the Chios People’s Kitchen and headed to Vial. Twice a week — on his own initiative and using the resources of the CPK — Salem delivers packages of food or clothing there. He is called Baba Noel by its very underserved residents, and his visits are eagerly anticipated. Salem used to ride the bus that makes regular runs between Vial and Souda camps, but he and his packages are now denied access to it. The kitchen does have a delivery van (the lovely Dolores) but refugees are not allowed to drive in Greece, even if they have a valid driver’s license. Volunteers, in turn, are not allowed access into Vial. So I waited outside as Salem delivered the packages in small batches. There is absolutely no sign posted outside forbidding photographs — so I took some pictures of the exterior. At that point I was approached by two policemen who took my passport and asked me to follow them to the police station inside the camp. After a while I was informed that “there is something wrong with [my] passport and name” and told to get into a police van to be escorted to the station in town. I asked and was allowed to hastily empty the car of the food packages so that Salem could continue delivering them. The questioning that ensued at the police station was pretty all-encompassing, but focussed most notably on my country of origin and multiple entry to and exit stamps from it. Today Salem again got a ride to Vial, with a load of clothing orders. But this time he was not allowed to deliver them. He and the driver were apparently not questioned but had their IDs checked and were sent on their way with their loaded car.

Volunteer groups and NGOs are not allowed inside Vial. The “catered” food rations residents receive are apparently so vile that many are unable to eat them. There are practically no deliveries of clothes, and outside of the CPK and Salem’s superhuman efforts none of food. Now it seems even this small but much needed effort will be stopped. And for what reason? Vial houses about a thousand human beings that need food and clothes just as much as the rest of us do.

This project gives people a home, helps people put their children in local schools, access jobs, learn the language, integrating into the local community whilst also supporting local communities themselves. Greek destitute families and individuals will be included on the program alongside those residents claiming asylum. We’re starting with 10 apartments and are hoping to grow the program, they wrote.

Concrete measures must be taken to implement humane policies towards migrants and refugees: safe and legal channels to seek protection; safe and humane reception conditions in countries of destination and transit; early detection of vulnerabilities; and the implementation of a dedicated search and rescue system in the Mediterranean that seeks to save lives not prevent arrivals to Europe. MSF is particularly concerned by the growing number of deals outsourcing migration management to — often unsafe — third countries that place the very concepts of refugee and protection in danger. Among the latest examples are the deal between the European Union and Turkey and the cynical Italy-Libya deal that supports the interception of migrants at sea by Libyan coastguards. Those migrants are prevented from seeking protection and pushed back to widely known and accepted violence, torture and inhumane detention conditions in Libya.

○ There is a small medical compound with a doctor where people make a appointments to visit.
○ They are escorted with two armed guards from their compound to the medical compound.
○ If something more urgent is needed, they are escorted, again by armed guards, to the hospital by ambulance.

○ Food is provided to the families living there by the Hungarian government. All of it is pre made. Some people say food is ok, but the majority say they dislike it.

Photo Policy:
○ No police, asylum officers, social workers, security infrastructure (cameras, etc.) can be published.
○ Photos of everything else is fine.

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