- Maha El-Gamal
50 minutes ago
Close tents, life creep in them despite the suffering. On a wooden swing hung on the door of a tent, a little girl is playing, and another child is playing between the tents with a wooden car, but this is not the complete picture inside the new refugee camp on the island of Lesbos in Greece.
Inside the tents set up after the famous Moria camp fire, there are endless tales of everyday forms of suffering.
“Our life is all rows and queues … rows for eating, and others for drinking, and others for entering the toilets.” This is how Syrian refugee Umm Muhammad describes her daily life inside the new camp, after the fire destroyed the Moria refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Greece, which was Its first residence.
In the long lines of the new camp, which includes thousands of refugees of Syrian, Afghani, African and other nationalities, everyone meets and waits patiently for food, water, or even to relieve themselves.
On the beach of the sea that overlooks the camp, you can see barbed wire encircling it from all directions, and from there Umm Muhammad tells about an experience she had never lived, as she dreamed of traveling to complete her studies, but she was unable to achieve this until the moment, at a time when she was not able Even from enrolling her children in school.
Umm Muhammad told the BBC: “The first thing we wake up in the morning, the most important thing is filling the water, because it only comes for certain periods, once in the morning and once in the evening, and the toilets are 500 meters away from us, and I cannot go to the laundries there. I have my girls’ clothes or utensils. ”
She and her fellow refugee women in the camp devised a way to cope with this situation by allocating places attached to the tents for cooking and bathing, while the men resort to bathing in sea water.
Staying in the tent all day was a protection for Umm Muhammad and other women from harassment, or any potential sexual assaults, she says.
She spoke to us about incidents of sexual harassment of women in Moria camp, as well as incidents of rape.
Memories of the Moria camp fire
The fire destroyed almost the entire Moria camp on the ninth of September of this year, and the camp was home to about 13 thousand refugees, and international humanitarian organizations criticized the situation of the camp, due to its overcrowding and inhuman conditions.
The husband Abu Muhammad, who did not leave his imagination, also spoke to us about warnings sent to the refugees prior to the fire by those he described as “militias and gangs from inside the camp.”
Abu Muhammad said that they burned the camp from all directions, adding: “The section we were staying in did not burn at the beginning, but the next day, they spread among the people that they would come to the rest of the camp, and an Afghan family who was staying next door warned us.”
Abu Muhammad continued, recalling painful memories of that day: “I asked my wife to prepare identification papers and personal items to save our lives. Indeed, after sunset, the section in which we were staying began to burn.”
Abu Muhammed seemed to hold on when he told of the men standing guard at the gates of the camps in Moria camp to protect their families from “thefts” and “sexual harassment” by gangs from inside the camp, he says.
As for Abu Hind, who is also a Syrian refugee from the camp, he cannot forget the Moria camp fire when he was rushing to rescue his family from the flames.
Whenever Abu Hind lit firewood to cook, due to the power cut in the new camp, he remembers that day that still raises his heart.
He says, “It is better to remain like this on the road and over the sky than being in a place that could turn into a prison at any moment.”
At the door of the new camp, stands the Syrian refugee Sumer, who refuses to live inside it, and prefers to take shelter in the street because of his concern for his life, after experiencing the Moria camp fire, he tells the BBC.
His sense of safety is almost “nonexistent,” as that fire stirs in him memories of the war years in northern Syria, when he was arrested by the Al-Nusra Front fighters, at a time when he was afraid of being arrested by ISIS fighters in Syria.
Revive feelings “Shock“
Sumer holds empty bullets in his hand that he took from the ground, which are remnants of security training in the new camp, which was a former camp for the Greek security forces, according to the refugees.
Issam Daoud, a physician and psychotherapist for children and adults, and director of psychological services at the international relief organization Humanity Crew, was not only a witness to the Moria camp fire, but he was also providing psychological support to refugees.
Essam says about the Moria camp fire: “Once you finish your mission in the first tent, you feel that your soul is almost out of pain.”
Essam says that the fire and its aftermath have revived the feelings of shock and fear among many migrants who fled the war in Syria again.
Issam recalls the difficulty of giving birth to women who came across the night of the fire while fleeing on their own. He also told the BBC about panic cases of other women who were threatened with what he described as “sexual assaults” or “sexual exploitation” in exchange for what they would guarantee for their families in Moria camp. Hand of unknown groups inside the camps.
Issam recounts how women used to sleep in the streets and roads as they moved from one place to another to flee the fire, and their hearts were filled with fear for their families. Some of them even had to sleep in cemeteries near the camps.
The challenges of transmission and the Corona epidemic
Some refugees collected their belongings in plastic bags when they moved from Moria camp to the new camp, and some of them carried his belongings and children in garbage containers due to the difficulty of the road, or on handmade wooden carts, as Ghayath al-Jundi tells the BBC.
Ghayath is a young British man of Syrian origin who volunteers to help refugees in Greek camps. He tells us that the new camp lacks the basic necessities of life, and inside it the tents have been built and surrounded by security forces and barbed wire.
Ghayath is trying to help the women, especially pregnant women, after suffering from him. It tells of women who suffered miscarriages due to exhaustion that befell them during the relocation trip to the new camp, and were unable to obtain any adequate health services.
Another Syrian refugee – who did not want to be named – resides in a tent accompanied by seven Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and he told us his fears of infection with the Coronavirus because his tent is adjacent to a tent designated to isolate those infected with HIV, and is surrounded by only barbed wire.
On the seventh of October, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned that international standards for refugee protection had witnessed severe pressures in 2020, due to the Corona epidemic.
Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, said that at the height of the epidemic, 168 countries completely or partially closed their borders, and about 90 countries did not grant any exemption to people seeking asylum.
It also warned that the measures taken by governments to address the epidemic ranged from humanitarian measures to a large extent, and others characterized by complete deprivation, or the arbitrary use of the immigration detention policy.
The recently adopted European Immigration and Asylum Pact sparked controversy and criticism from several countries regarding the “mandatory distribution” of asylum seekers in the European Union countries, amid the presence of a European bloc that appeared divided in this regard.
Greece says it is fighting hard to help migrants and calls on the European Union to shoulder the burden in light of an economic crisis it faces.
Greece has transferred hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers since last week to the mainland, among them Abu Muhammad, who moved with his family to one of the apartments, hoping for a better future for himself, his children and those who suffer like him.
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