I 2015 var hele verdens øjne rettet mod Middelhavet og de flygtninge der forsøgte at krydse havet mod Europa fra Nordafrika eller den tyrkiske kyst. Hvad der blev kendt som ‘flygtningekrisen’ er dog aldrig sluttet. I år er antallet af bådflygtninge dog stigende, samtidig med at tusindvis af mennesker sidder indespærret i græske koncentrationslejre, hvor de glemmes af resten af verden og bekriges af den græske stat.
Konfront bringer her en kort redegørelse og et interview med Kash Wall, der har arbejdet som frivillig i Moria lejren på den græske ø Lesbos. Vi bringer desuden udvalgte billeder af lejren fra tidligere og nuværende frivillige, samt videoer filmet og sammensat af lejrens beboere i samarbejde organisationerne medialabs of Showerpower, der begge søger at dokumentere forholdene og give beboerne en stemme.
Den 29. september udbrød der brand i flygtningelejren og detentionscentret Moria på den græske ø Lesbos ud for den tyrkiske kyst. Branden kostede flere personer livet og efterlod lejren med en svækket infrastruktur. Det var dog en brand som denne, der skulle til for at verdenspressen rettede blot en smule opmærksomhed mod, hvad der i årernes løb er blevet kendt som et helvede på jord.
I foråret 2016 fungerede lejren som registrerings og transitcenter for ankomne bådflygtninge, der blev registreret før deres videre rejse mod det græske fastland og resten af Europa. Alt dette ændrede sig dog med indgåelsen af en aftale mellem EU og Tyrkiet. Den tyrkiske stat forpligtede sig til at huse og registrere de flygtninge, der ankom fra krigszoner som Irak, Syrien og Afghanistan og forhindre dem i at rejse mod Europa. Moria gik fra at være et dårligt udrustet transitcenter til en decideret koncentrationslejr, hvor op til 15.000 tusinde opholdt sig i faciliteter designet til tre tusinde. Siden er lejrens tilstand kun blevet forværret med overflydende toiletter, ingen bade, dårlig eller kold mad. Langt de fleste nye ankomne overlades ofte til at sove udendørs trods kraftig regn og kulde i vinterhalvåret og stegende hede om sommeren.
Nødhjælpsarbejdere har sommeren over advaret om, at forholdene for flygtninge i Moria og andre lejre var katastrofale idet lejrene husede op til syv gange deres planlagte kapacitet. Den græske stat har dog nølet, og de har først i sidste uge flyttet et par tusinde fra Moria til lejre på det græske fastland, hvor de dog ikke er garanteret ordentlige forhold. Med lukningen af Balkan korridoren gennem det tidligere Jugoslavien forbliver Grækenland i dag Europas største flygtningelejr og en skamplet på menneskeheden. Alene i ugen 23-29. september ankom mere end 32 både med 1322 personer. Størstedelen af dissekan se frem til at opholde sig i månedsvis på øen gennem den kommende vinter. Selv hvis de bliver forflyttet til det græske fastland kan de fleste flygtninge se frem til op til to år i lejre før deres asylstatus bliver færdigbehandlet. Som det kan ses i danske detentionscentre som Sandholm og Ellebæk så fører lange perioder som disse ofte til udviklingen af psykiske men.
Dette sker samtidig med at antallet af døde i Middelhavet overstiger 1071 personer, et tal der forventes at stige.
Konfront har interviewet Kash Wall der indtil for nylig arbejdede, som operations- og sikkerhedsofficer for en NGO i Moria. Vi spurgte hende omkring forholdene for flygtninge i lejren og den generelle mangel på infrastruktur og sikkerhed. Interviewet er på engelsk.
What role did you have in Moria or in the refugee volunteer network?
“I spent 6 months working around southern Lesbos. I volunteered as a Operations and Protection Officer. I attended boat landings, supervised informal children’s education at Kara Tepe, and worked 3 days a week inside Moria in a Medical Centre where I provided psychological first aid and short intervention casework support to patients that were escalated to me by doctors.”
With your own wordss, can you describe the conditions in Moria and the rest of the island?
“I have seen videos from the camp overnight and the constant screams of terror from women and children can be heard non stop.”
“Moria is no less than hell on earth. During the day things can seem calm but tensions and violence flair quickly. At night the NGOs do not work on site and minimal security or police are present. In a camp with over 10,000 occupants, many living in tents the violence, sexual assaults and other abuses often occur overnight. People don’t have doors they can lock, racial or cultural tensions can explode and men, women and children suffer. I have seen videos from the camp overnight and the constant screams of terror from women and children can be heard non stop.
While I worked in Moria I worked with rape victims every day. Most who were assaulted in their country of origin or on their journey to Turkey or Europe, but also at least one a week is raped in the camp. Many children had experienced sexual violence as well. So many of the residents were suffering with ongoing trauma and mental health concerns. Many couldn’t sleep or would sleep and scream in the night. There was a lot of bed wetting or incontinence. Panic attacks and psychotic episodes also occurred. Scabies and other skin diseases were rife. Hygiene was so poor many people faired little better than animals.
Video – Media labs i samarbejde med lejrens beboere
Services in the camp were disgraceful. Food lines were long and people stood in hot, caged areas waiting for food for hours. In summer many would faint. I saw patients with severe injuries from torture and trauma. LGBTQI refugees living in daily fear of being discovered. I met gay women who had been raped in their home countries in an attempt to remove the gay from them. I saw refugees with bullets still lodged in their bodies and injuries from bomb blasts. The medical systems could not cope. Mental health services were and are completely overwhelmed.
Accomodation outside of Moria was very limited. Each week a selection of NGO leaders would meet with UNHCR to discuss the most vulnerable cases and see who should be referred to leave Moria or have an urgent transfer off the island. The list was always hundreds of people long, all very very unwell and the available spots for them to move to would vary from none on some weeks to maybe 2 or 3 spaces now and then.”
How did new volunteers respond?
“In my NGO we had a variety of programs and places volunteers could work. We never let inexperienced volunteers enter Moria and work onsite with us. Only medical staff and well prepared interpreters had access alongside coordinators and myself.
Many volunteers wanted to see Moria to understand for themselves how bad it could be but we would not let them enter. Those who could enter would be in shock or cry after their first day. To read about such suffering is one thing but to see it on mass is truly heartbreaking.
The hardest part of being in Moria is seeing the children. They are completely innocent and depending on their age they don’t quite understand what is happening to them or around them. But they are living in constant danger, aren’t able to eat or wash properly and have no access to education or adequate pediatric care.”
What was in your mind the most serious issue?
“The worst thing about Moria is the lack of interpreting services, and the abysmal asylum process. On average the camp had 40+ different nationalities in it and far more languages and there were never enough interpreters. Not even for ‘common’ languages. All documents or legal papers were in Greek or English so refugees struggled to understand information and their rights. The asylum process is completely flawed, overwhelmed, and unnecessarily bureaucratic. I have seen in 2019 people in Moria who have their first stage interview for asylum booked for 2023.
Some people might think ‘these people already have so little why start fights and hurt each other’ but the reality is that racial or ethnic tensions are only part of the problem. The main issue is that people don’t speak the same language so they can’t understand each other and they are in an environment were everything you need to survive is scarce. If you were locked away with 10,000 people and you couldn’t speak to most of them I guarantee you, there would be tensions and you would feel unsafe.”
“Unaccompanied minors are kept in the RIC which is supposed to be a secured zone for vulnerable individuals. As I am sure you are aware there are currently more than 500 of them in a space with capacity for less than 200. They are not properly supervised. They don’t have adequate food or access to education or social services and recently one minor was stabbed to death by another. UMs are automatically classed as vulnerable and yet they are not being moved off the island or transitioned to reunify with family.
For other children there are some play areas and some medical services offered for them but I couldn’t list who exactly is active now.”
Did the previous riots change anything?
“No. The riots would injure many including police and refugees themselves and damage property or services. Like most riots or protests some people participating want change and participate to speak out but there are always those who take the opportunity to steal or injure or damage property.
The tension and fear and loss of hope is simply so high that people lose control and are trying to find a way to be heard. They are in an endless cycle of loss and are treated like less than human. if I were treated as they are I don’t know what I would do.”
Under en brand i Moria optog flere beboere episoden hvor syv personer omkom. Branden mistænkes at være forsaget af misvedligehold og er den tredje af sin slags de sidste par år.
Video – Media Labs og fotografer bosat i lejren.
Konfront følger løbende situationen for flygtninge i syd og central Europa.
Medialabs fortsætter deres arbejde for at dokumentere forholdene i græske flygtningelejre kan følges her.