Photo by Fotomovimiento with creative commons license
Moria camp was build in 2010 on a deserted military camp in outside the village of Moria in Lesvos Greece. Originally it was build to host, temporarily as First reception Center, 2300 refugee that they had to be registered and if possible checked for their real identity, in order to proceed for the asylum process or to be deported back to Turkey (Greek Link from Newspaper “Ethnos”) .
The migration flux of the 2015 tested the camp where hundreds of thousands passed from there in their trip towards northern Europe. After the borders were closed and Europe became again a fortress, many migrants were stranded there. In 2018 there were over 8000 refugees there, occupying also space from nearby olive trees fields. The number was raised when the borders to Northern Europe closed. Just before the fire the camp had about 13000 inhabitants.
From 2010 till last month they have been more than 4 Governments in Greece, 2 documentaries from BBC and Al Jazzera, a book about Moria camp, at least 2 different Migration commissioners in EU and 3 different migration policies and millions of Euros spend in order that the irregular migration will stop in the concentration camp lands.
People were living in inhumane conditions, children even 8 years old where stating to the psychologist in the camp that they want to die. 13000 souls living in limbo. Not knowing if they can move on, not having a reason to go back. The Greek governments managed to have the locals against the migrants mainly because there were occupying the olive trees fields. Lesvos had more than 13million Olive trees and the population lives not from tourism but mainly from Olive oil and byproducts of olive oil.
The situation just before the Fire
With the change of government in 2019 there was a plan to move the migrants from the temporary camps to new facilities, that was revealed that there would be build in deserted islands in some of the thousands Greek islands. The plan didn’t even started after this revelation. For the ones that do not know anything about Greece, the same treatment had in the past, until at least 1974, the communists in Greece. Being exiled in closed facilities in small islands guarded by the Greek Army (Greek Link from “iefimerida” Internet Site).
During the Corona Pandemic I was following the news in Greece mainly because I still have many friends there but also because my parents are still alive and they belong to the risk groups. I was always amazed how come and there were no infections in Moria. So many people living in a so small place. I think the answer was because they weren’t tested and they are mainly young people. Tests began lately and as it was normal they found positive 35 refugees and the should be in quarantine together with their families. How can you have in quarantine people in a camp with 5 times the population that it should hosted. The official reports said that 5 refugees of Afghan origin put the fire in the camp. Although it is an action that everybody contempt, still I don’t know if I wasn’t doing the same, if I were in their shoes.
13000 people had to sleep on the side of the road or in cemeteries. 13000 people are looking for a light of hope. They maybe not all refugees from a war or a political situation, 70% are Afghans that mainly were asked to leave Iran where their families migrated after the invasion to Afghanistan. Most of the people there have as a reason to migrate poverty. There are not, at least not all, looking to exploit the social system of the northern European countries, as many citizens here believe, they need a chance to survive, they need a chance to give a better life to their children.
The question that comes first from the people who oppose the decision to accept them in Northern Europe is: “we have to save all in the world? If we take them now then more will come”. And this is why Germany is reluctant to take them and Greece to build better facilities. They are afraid that they will give a signal to all migrants, that if they are stranded in concentration camp country, they can always move forward with actions like those in Moria.
The answer is only one, save them now and when others come, save them too.
We are demonstrating here today by saying that we have enough place for the refugees in my humble opinion this is a wrong answer. The question was never about enough place. The question is if we want to share a common future with those migrants.
Do we have a common future?
A common future cant be shared in EU where the commission for migration, since Mrs Von der Leyen became president, is called Promoting our European Way of Life. Can migration policies involve migrants, when our aim is to promote our way of life? How common is OUR way of life? We (the EU citizens) do not have the same eating, drinking habits, we do not celebrate important days in our life in the same way, hell our social life is different. I as a Greek I am used to big groups of people coming together even for eating in a restaurant. Here its an exception when I see a table with more than 6 people. I do things without having them planned and have them in my agenda. Here I have to plan to go for a beer more than 2 weeks before. In Hungary the have as a president a small dictator, as the former president of the commission Mr. Juncker said in public, what common do we have with him and his way of life? And finally a hell hole like Moria which was allowed to operate in EU, is part of the European way of Life?
The last time that EU changed its migration policies, to make them more strict, was when Bavaria had elections and Mr. Seehofer was afraid that CSU will loose from AfD. When migration policies are changing because of a party fearing to loose regional elections, how can we talk about a common future with all those refugees and migrants. How can we have a common future with immigrants when they are the ones who get the shitty jobs in every country, regardless if they have studied or they have skills. Those jobs that didn’t stopped even during the lock down in every country. How can they ever being integrated when we, as a host society do not try more to make them feel part of our country?
The studies in Germany showed that 7 to 5 years after the arrival of refugees in 2013 and 2015 only the 50% of them had a payed job (link in German). And all were happy. Really? Is this enough for you? What is the problem with the rest 50%? What are we doing wrong? How does this 50% passes its day? Closed to a house with only their own people to talk? Being together only with other refugees? Do they form a kind of social ghetto? And then people complaining that they do not integrate?
Yes, we need to help the refugees, not only in Moria but wherever, help them to find dignity and a way to be part of the host society. No, it shouldn’t be only Germany that helps the refugees, it should be all the EU countries. And this can be achieved only if we, the peoples, press for changes in policies that aim to shield the rest of the EU countries by using the southerners as jailers for the immigrants, but also by demanding a better way to integrate people.
Place we have enough in Europe, lets bring the migrants over and try to build a common future and make sure that no new Moria will appear anywhere in EU.
*part of this article was a speech in a demo in Oldenburg Germany, on the 19th of September 2020. The speech was held on behalf of We Migrants group.