The situation has devolved since our last interview, and almost every scenario became worst case. The refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece was brutally evicted, and roughly 10,000 refugees have been re-located. Where are they now, and what conditions are they living in?
They were brought to several “camps”, most of them are around Thessaloniki. In the Sindos camp there seems to be no water for the people and in some other camps there is not enough water. I have received messages from refugees that I know, and they say the conditions are unbelievable. Nobody told them where they were being taken to, which terrified people. At the Nea Kavala camp, refugees refused to leave the buses for several hours because they didn’t wanted to go into the camp. There are fences around the camp, and most of them are in abandoned industrial buildings. We received pictures from refugees who show that there are leaks and the buildings are really dirty. In my opinion EU leaders and the Greek government are committing crimes against humanity and should stand trail for the crimes they are committing.
People stayed in Idomeni to resist what’s happened to them, as most of the refugees have been placed in military camps, and are scheduled to be sent back to Turkey. How dangerous is each situation? Is there any safe place for them right now?
All refugees from Idomeni that didn’t manage to escape are now in military camps. At the moment, only refugees who arrived in Greece after March 20 will be sent back to Turkey – but the people stopped trusting EU leaders since the EU’s deal with Turkey. I can’t blame them for that. The EU border regime killed more than 30,000 people, most of them drowned in the Mediterranean. The way the EU is treating refugees in Greece and other countries is not trustworthy. Is there a safe place… in the north of Europe, it’s at least much safer.. but conditions are getting worse as every few months as countries in Northern-Europe introduce more repressive legislation against refugees, especially against those who are arriving now and in the future.
Cars of Hope were able to find homes and aid for some refugees, can you tell us how you were able to find host families for the refugees?
There are great solidarity networks, and people in Greece helped refugees by hosting them. We had contacts with some of these networks and other great people in Greece. We didn’t know when or exactly how but we were expecting that refugees might need these networks someday. All these networks are working on a structure meant to allow them to do this for more families.
How have authorities and individual actors who oppose the work of Cars of Hope affected the group’s efforts?
Authorities obstructed our work several times since we started last year. In Slovenia, police offers refused to let us into 2 camps, so we couldn’t deliver aid although it was clear that it was needed. In Croatia it was also very difficult, and taking pictures or filming was forbidden. The state camps in Greece, all of which are all run by the military, are very difficult to get into as volunteers. About one week before the eviction of Idomeni began, it was also very hard to get in as volunteers – especially for people who wanted to deliver food. Sometimes they were allowed, but the next time they would be turned away. We used a lot of tricks to get into the camp without being seen or stopped by police. It worked, and as they didn’t see us enter the camp, we can’t know if they would have stopped us or not. So we did nothing illegal. In Germany a far-right racist nazi party wrote an article about us, but we decided not to react to it. We took a few precautionary measures, as it wouldn’t be the first time that activists were attacked by fascists after this party published something about them helping people flee war and persecution – but we didn’t want to give them more attention. This party always starts provocations with articles like, this and they hope for a lot of publicity from people who react to them. This does not mean that people find this far right party and their articles acceptable, but in some way its a compliment that they wrote an article about us. Although it was a pretty bad article, it gave us even more confidence that we are doing the right thing. Working with refugees is part of fighting xenophobic organizations, and it seems that they consider our work as threat and they are right – it is a threat to xenophobic people, policies, and organisations.
What’s are the future goals of Cars of Hope?
We will continue to support and work with refugees in Europe. We hope that people continue to give us donations, as we need to finance even more things after the eviction of Idomeni. We are about to launch a campaign to finance housing, food, sanitary-products and other things people need for their daily life so we can support more refugees.
Please visit this link for updates from refugees who were evicted from Idomeni, such as this:
“The second camp in the Kalochori area is a former market. There are people who have been there since some days, staying in the tents inside the big hall. Others have to sleep in tents outside. Last night, some of the people who were transferred here from Idomeni could not find a place to sleep at all.”
You can support cars of hope by donating to their fundraiser, or directly to their bank account.
Name: Sozialtal e.V.
Iban: DE80 3305 0000 0000 6968 49
Description: Cars Of Hope