Thousands of refugees will be made homeless and left without support from tomorrow

Between 8,000 and 11,000 refugees who have received a positive decision on their claims for asylum will be evicted from their accommodation and have their cashcards blocked from today, 31st May 2020.

Life was already difficult enough in the Ministry’s camps or in NGO hotels or apartments with a cashcard to cover basic needs. But without shelter and this little support, it is clear that men, women and children will be pushed into homelessness and hunger.

A previous wave of evictions happened in April 2019, but this year the number of people facing destitution is even higher. And in November 2019 the law changed to give people even less chance of finding their feet – people have just 30 days to leave their accommodation after receiving a positive decision and their UNHCR cashcard support will be stopped immediately.

Today, a right wing government is in power and new right wing directors have recently been appointed for the 32 camps in mainland Greece – some of which are known fascists. No doubts exist that the threat to evict people by police force will turn into a harsh reality. It is difficult to predict what will happen from tomorrow, but let’s say this is clear: this government is more repressive, it enforces more irrational and more anti-migratory policies despite criticism and with no concern for legality. Greece is a scarier place to struggle for your papers and scarier for those who finally get papers too.

Recognised refugee are scared to lose the only thing they could get in Greece – protection status. Yet small protests have already erupted in different places over Greece, in camps and on the streets of the cities.If the government continues its stubborn plan to kick out and cut off all those families, the kids, the vulnerable, the ones it has apparently decided to protect (!) desperation and anger will most likely grow into larger protests. Or, as usually is the result of repressive migration policies, this government will push people to leave Greece no matter what and just for the purpose of survival – with or without travel documents.

People’s lives are lost at Greece’s borders. People are put in life-threatening situations every day as the Greek coast guard pushes them back unlawfully and exposes them to distress situations. People lose their lives in the Aegean hotspots. People are barely kept alive in the mainland camps without any hope or future to build. And at the end of this perilous journey to reach EU soil, after delays and suffering in Greece to obtain refugee status, they are pushed to disembark once again on a quest for safety, home and peace. If they have managed to pay the fees and wait enough time, they will make this next journey from Greece with a little blue travel document in their pocket saying “beneficiary of international protection”

And now we are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic! Essential services have been closed and even now are not properly operational. It was already difficult enough to take the necessary steps to ‘integrate’ – learn Greek, open bank accounts, get tax numbers and social security numbers, find work and a place to rent – but the New Democracy government and Covid-19 have made these things impossible. For example, since coming to power in July 2019, the ND government simply refuse to give protection seekers AMKA (social security numbers) so they cannot access public healthcare or legally work. The parallel PAAYPA system to give protection seekers a temporary social security number was announced many months ago and still people are waiting. In ESTIA flats, the UNHCR accommodation scheme where the most vulnerable protection seekers are placed in apartments with NGO social workers for support, only 10% have managed to open a bank account.

Protection seekers face insurmountable obstacles to access what little support the Greek government can offer people in need, and the Helios program run by IOM is not fit for purpose. Helios offers some help paying rent for a maximum of 1 year, but you first need to have a bank account and have signed a contract to rent a house. How is this possible if you do not have any money? How is this possible if you do not have the necessary documents to open a bank account and make a formal housing contract? Helios’s own report speaks for itself – only 18% of people enrolled in the program are able to get the rental subsidies. Clearly Helios is not a solution.

One of the government’s excuses for the evictions is that space needs to be made for people to be transferred from the overcrowded squalid camps on the island ‘hotspots’. This logic is designed to divide people seeking protection and set them against each other. Making people and families homeless on the mainland is no ‘solution’ to the horrific conditions on the islands. People will be united and they will struggle for their rights.

Tomorrow, Monday 1st June, gathering called at UNHCR offices in Athens, Michalakopoulou 91, 12pm

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Called by NOT LEAVING MY HOME

facebook.com/notleavingmyhome

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We are a group of migrants who are recognised as refugees in Greece. We live in accommodation of Non Governmental Organisations. In April we were told to leave our houses by the end of May.

The New Democracy government decided to evict migrants during Corona while it’s state slogan is “STAY HOME”. Our cash card, which is for food, is also getting blocked.
Most of us are faced with serious health conditions or disabilities, we are single mothers, single women and elderly people.
The war against migrants began on the seas and at the borders, it continued in the jails, detention centres, overcrowded camps and through ID checks on the streets. Now this war takes place inside our homes.
WE ARE NOT LEAVING OUR HOMES!
We want homes, documents and cash assistance for everyone. Our children must go to school and have the right to study. We want health care conditions, AMKA and translators.

If you are a migrant facing similar situations contact us on the numbers below or facebook.

ما گروهی از مهاجران هستیم که درخواست پناهندگی مان در کشور یونان پذیرفته شده است. ما در اقامتگاه های غیر دولتی (خانه ها) زندگی میکنیم. در ابتدای آپریل به ما اطلاع داده شد که باید آخر ماه می خانه هایمان را ترک کنیم.دولت نیو دموکراسی تصمیم گرفته است که مهاجران را در دوران ویروس کرونا از خانه هایشان اخراج کند در حالیکه شعار دولتش “خانه بمانید” است. پول نقد ما که برای تهیه ی غذا است مسدود خواهد شد.بیشتر ما با مشکلات جدی سلامت یا ناتوانی های جسمی روبه رو هستیم،ما زنان مجرد و مادران سرپرست خانوار و افراد مسّن هستیم.
جنگ علیه مهاجران از دریاها و مرزها شروع شده و تا زندان ها و بازداشتگاه های پلیس،کمپ های پرجمعیت بسته ادامه پیدا میکند. حالا این جنگ در خانه هایمان رخنه کرده است.
ما خانه هایمان را ترک نمیکنیم.
ما خانه،مدارک،پول برای همه میخواهیم.
فرزندانمان باید به مدرسه بروند و حق تحصیل داشته باشند.ما خدمات بهداشتی سلامتی،آمکا و مترجم میخواهیم.
اگر شما یک مهاجر در چندین شرایطی هستید به ما بپیوندید و از طریق لینک تلگرام و فیسبوک با ما در ارتباط شوید.

Nous sommes un group de migrants reconnus comme réfugiées. Nous habitons dans es appartements d’accomodation de différentes ONG. En avril, il nous a été annoncé que nous devrons quitter nos logement à la fin de du mois de mais.
Le gouvernement actuel de la nouvelle democratie à décidé d’expulsé les migrants en pleine période de covid-19 quand son slogan officiel est ”restez a la maison”. La ”cash card” qui sert pour se payer a manger, va aussi être bloqué.La plupart de nous sommes confrontés a de sérieux problemes de santé, nous sommes des mères seules, femmes seules et des personnes agées.
La guerre contre les migrants commence sur les mers et aux fontieres,elle continue en prison, centres de détention, camps surchargés et les contrôles d’identité au faciès dans la rue. Maintenant cette guerre est dans nos maison. NOUS NE QUITTERONS PAS NOS MAISON!
Nous voulons des maisons, des papiers et de l’assistance en argent pour tout le monde.Nos enfants doivent aller a l’ école et avoir le droit d’ étudier. Nous voulons la sécurité sociale et de santé, AMKA et des traducteurs.
Si vous êtes migrants et que vous vivez des conditions similaires, contactez nous sur les numeros de telephone en dessous ou facebook.

نحن مجموعة من المهاجرين المعترف بهم كلاجئين في اليونان. نحن نعيش في سكن للمنظمات غير الحكومية. تم إعلامنا في نيسان بمغادرة منازلنا بحلول نهاية أيار.
قررت حكومة “الديمقراطية الجديدة” طرد المهاجرين خلال كورونا بينما شعار الدولة هو “إبقى في المنزل”. وبطاقتنا النقدية المخصصة للطعام يتم حظرها أيضا.
معظمنا يواجه ظروفاً صحية خطيرة أو إعاقات، نحن أمهات أو نساء عازبات.
بدأت الحرب ضد المهاجرين في البحار وعلى الحدود ، واستمرت في السجون ومراكز الاعتقال والمخيمات المزدحمة ومن خلال فحص الهوية في الشوارع.والآن هذه الحرب تحدث في منازلنا.

نحن لن نغادر بيوتنا!

نريد منازل ووثائق ومساعدات نقدية للجميع. أطفالنا يجب أن يذهبوا إلى المدرسة ولهم الحق في الدراسة. نريد ظروف رعاية صحية ، AMKA ومترجمين.
إذا كنت مهاجرًا تواجه مواقف مشابهة ، فاتصل بنا على الأرقام أدناه.

ہم تارکین وطن کا ایک گروہ ہیں جو یونان میں مہاجرین کے طور پر تسلیم کیے گئے ہیں۔ ہم غیر سرکاری تنظیموں کی ریائش گاہوں میں رہتے ہیں۔ ہمیں اپریل کے مہینے میں بتایا گیا کہ مئ کے آخر تک گھر خالی کریں۔ نئ جمہوریت حکومت نے کورونا کے دوران تارکین وطن کو بے دخل کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا جب کہ اس کا ریاستی نعرہ “ گھر میں رہو” ہمارے کیش کارڈ جو ہمارے کھانے کے لیے ہے وہ بھی بلاک ہورہی ہیں۔ ہم میں سے اکثر کی صحت سنگین صورتحال یا معزوری سے دو چار ہے ہم اکیلی مائیں اور اکیلی عورت ہیں۔ یہ جنگ تارکین وطن کے خلاف سمندر اور سرحدوں سے شروع ہو کر جیلوں، حراستی مراکز، بھیڑ بھری کیمپوں اور سڑکوں پر شناختی کارڈ چیک کے زریعے جاری ہے۔ اب یہ جنگ ہمارے گھروں تک پہچ گئی ہیں۔ ہم اپنے گھروں کو نہیں چھوڑ رہے ہیں۔ ہم سب کے لیے گھر، دستاویزات اور نقد امداد چاہتے ہیں۔ ہمارے بچوں کو لازمی اسکول جانا چاہے اور انہیں تعلیم حاصل کرنے کا پورا حق ہے۔ ہم صحت کی دیکھ بھال کے ضوابط AMKA اور مترجم چاہتے ہیں۔
اگر آپ اسی طرح کے حالات کا سامنا کرنے واے تارکین وطن ہیں تو نیچے دئیے نمبروں پر ہم سے رابط کریں او

Είμαστε μια ομάδα μεταναστών/τριών που έχουν αναγνωριστεί ως πρόσφυγες/ισσες στην Ελλάδα. Στεγαζόμαστε από μη κυβερνητικές οργανώσεις. Τον Απρίλιο μας είπαν να εγκαταλείψουμε τα σπίτια μας μέχρι τα τέλη Μαΐου.
Η κυβέρνηση της Νέας Δημοκρατίας αποφάσισε να εκδιώξει τους μετανάστες κατά τη διάρκεια του Covid19 ενώ το κρατικό σύνθημα είναι «ΜΕΝΟΥΜΕ ΣΠΙΤΙ». Η οικονομική μας ενίσχυση (cash card), η οποία είναι για τροφή, θα διακοπεί επίσης.
Οι περισσότεροι/ες από εμάς αντιμετωπίζουμε σοβαρά προβλήματα υγείας ή αναπηρίες, είμαστε μητέρες μόνες, γυναίκες μόνες και ηλικιωμένοι/ες.

Ο πόλεμος εναντίον των μεταναστών/τριών ξεκίνησε στις θάλασσες και στα σύνορα, συνεχίστηκε στις φυλακές, στα κέντρα κράτησης, στα υπερπλήρη στρατόπεδα και με τους ελέγχους ταυτότητας στους δρόμους. Τώρα αυτός ο πόλεμος λαμβάνει χώρα μέσα στα σπίτια μας.
ΔΕΝ ΘΑ ΑΦΗΣΟΥΜΕ ΤΑ ΣΠΙΤΙΑ ΜΑΣ!
Θέλουμε στέγαση, χαρτιά και οικονομική στήριξη για όλους/ες.
Τα παιδιά μας πρέπει να πάνε στο σχολείο και να έχουν το δικαίωμα να σπουδάσουν. Θέλουμε υγειονομική περίθαλψη, AMKA και διερμηνείς.

“The odyssey of nonsense!”

One small obstacle among many to reunite with your family

Office hours of KEP office in Victoria Square

Today the day begins with a simple task – or so it seems. Habib* from Afghanistan is an asylum seeker in Greece and a lone parent to one six-year-old boy. His wife resides legally in Germany and she is sick with breast cancer. Habib needs to sign a power of attorney in order to be represented by a lawyer in Athens, who will fight for his and his children’s right to be reunited with his wife. 

According to recent changes in law, his signature must be verified and stamped by a municipality office (KEP) or at a police station to be accepted by the competent Asylum Service. Due to general restrictions in place because of Covid-19, the municipality office currently only see people face-to-face by appointment and only in urgent cases.

Powers of attorney declarations should be signed and verified online, however to access online services you must have either a tax number (AFM) and the online codes for Greece’s taxis.net platform or a bank account and access to online banking. Habib, like most people seeking protection in Greece, has none of these things since there are multiple administrative hurdles in order to get them. 

We call the KEP office in Victoria Square to make an appointment. They offer their next appointment which is in three weeks time. However, we are not sure if they will accept to conduct this bureaucratic task. In another similar case, the refugee went to an appointment at a KEP and was tuend away.

Habib and his family must act fast, so we head to the police station nearest to his address in Aghios Panteleimonas. It is shortly before 14 o clock, 26th May 2020. The police officers at the entrance are sitting on two chairs. The area around the entrance is blocked with security strings. They say that the police have received orders not to verify signatures anymore. Only half an hour earlier, in another police station in Athens not far away, another friend had signed his power of attorney in front of a police officer – the simple task was completed in just a few minutes. But in Aghios Panteleimonas the officers insist we must go away. 

We walk to the next police station in Kypseli. Now it is 14:30. A dozen citizens stand in front of the police station. “No verification of signatures today”, the officer says. “We have more important things to do now.” I try to insist and explain the fact that we have already been sent away once today by officers in a different station. The guard continues: “You can use the online platform at open.gov“. We reply that Habib has no tax number and no bank account. The officer looks surprised and says: “Then he can not be legally in Greece”. I don’t know if this is a Greek tragedy or what. Next to us a fellow citizen says that he needs to verify his signature to buy a motorbike today. He says, he tried many times to complete the task using the online platform but the system kept breaking down. He says, he has already lost his taxi business thanks to the economic crisis and he has a small baby now. He needs this motorbike to get a job as soon as possible. The officer answers that even his elderly father has enough IQ to use the internet platform. 

We continue to the police station in Exarchia. It is approx. 15:20. “Come back in two hours!” we are told. But nobody is standing in front of the police station. There is no queues. The situation is calm. We politely ask if it might be possible to verify our signature now, but are met with nothing but angry looks. 

At 15:54 we are at the police station in Omonia. The guard says that only residents of Omonia area can verify their signatures here. He is polite enough to ask the responsible officer if he can help us. But his superior’s line is the following: “You have to do the signature in the police station of your neighbourhood”. We inform him that Aghios Panteleimonas rejected to undertake such duties in general. He does not believe what we tell him. People being arrested pass us by and an hour later, an officer comes down at around 17:02. He tells us we should go to the police station of residence. No exceptions. 

At 17:30 we are at the police station where the day had begun successfully, with a friend having his signature verified for a power of attorney easily. The shift has changed and we are met by different staff. We are rejected here too. Go to your own neighbourhood or perform the signature online, they tell us. We are tired of explaining why this is not feasible and return back to our homes with empty hands. 

Thank you Greek government for the most impractical and repressive law reform!
Thank you police officers for refusing to complete a simple duty arbitrarily!

P.S. This is how a seemingly simple thing such as authorising a lawyer can become a huge obstacle to accessing your rights.

“Daddy is there a problem with the aeroplanes in Greece? Why aren’t you coming?”

A campaign to reunite families separated between Germany and Greece (5)

In 2016, upon arrival to Greece, life in Moria was unbearable for the little family and their baby. They escaped to Athens where they stayed first homeless and then in a squat

A father in Greece – his wife and two small kids in Germany, one of whom he has never met

This family belongs to Frankfurt!

Waly* is a 29 year old father from Afghanistan. For a year and a half, he has been far from his family. His wife and his two sons live in Germany where they obtained residence permits. One of his sons was born there. Waly has never met him, he has only seen him on video calls. 

When Waly’s wife escaped Greece, their elder son was still a baby. Now he is old enough to talk and he watches the aeroplanes in the sky over Frankfurt. His son asks him,

“Daddy is there a problem with the aeroplanes in Greece? Why aren’t you coming?”

The truth is that is is impossible for Waly to join his family in Germany legally, since they are categorised by authorities on both sides as a ‘separated family’ case.

Also, his wife’s asylum claim was first rejected in Germany, which is another of the most common arguments used in rejections issued by the Germans when asylum seekers in Greece apply for family reunification. 
After taking a private lawyer and appealing before a court his wife got a one year status called ‘Abschiebungsverbot’. With this national humanitarian status issued mostly to vulnerable persons whose deportation is not feasible, family reunion via Dublin or the German embassy is not possible. Waly’s wife has not even been able to obtain a travel document in order to at least visit her husband in Greece and let their kids see their father. 

Life was unlivable for the family when they were together in Greece. They arrived on Lesvos and after six months of frequent experiences of violence in Moria they couldn’t bear it any more. They travelled together to Athens but as they had left the island with a geographical restriction stamp on their cards, they reached the mainland irregularly and could not progress their case.

Since March 2016, when the EU-Turkey Deal was implemented, asylum seekers are forced to stay on the Aegean Islands. Only upon identification of a vulnerability can they move to the mainland, or in cases of family reunification or if their asylum procedure has been concluded positively. Families with children where both parents are present, are not considered ‘vulnerable’ enough.

Upon arrival to the Greek capital, the family’s living conditions did not improve. They were homeless and they had no access to shelter. They couldn’t find support or even food. For two years the family lived in a squat together and eventually decided they had no choice but to use the little money they had left to escape these conditions. 

As they did not have enough money to travel together as a family, Waly’s wife and their son were forced to move to Germany alone. After they left, the squat that the family had been staying in got evicted by riot police. Following that terrifying event, Waly has spent the last year and half in Athens in the same unbearable conditions, but now alone, far from his family. 

Waly has been to many lawyers in Athens but they tell him they cannot help, because the 3-month Dublin deadline has passed and he separated from his wife and child ‘voluntarily’. 

“How is something voluntary, when you have no other choice?? Being far from my family is no life. In Afghanistan we were always scared of dying, but there you die once. Here in Greece I feel I loose myself every day that I am without my wife and my kids. How is it that I have not even met my own child? Last year I tried many times to end my life. Today I understand I must try and stay strong.”


*names changed

Not a happy day!

International Day of Families cannot be celebrated by those separated by borders!

copyright: Salinia Stroux

“My thoughts are dark. There are so many problems. I wouldn’t know it’s the International Family Day. I am feeling scared and worried inside the camp we stay in Greece. Even if I sometimes feel a second of happiness it gets lost in the manifold problems we face. Our kid is alone in Germany. He feels pain in his heart from the stress. He asks for help, but I am far. My wife’s situation gets worse day by day. She cries, she forgets, she loses control of her body. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I try not to loose hope.”

Morteza B.*, father and husband, whose story is here

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that the 15th May would be observed as the International Day of Families. While some families can celebrate this day, many others cannot. They are separated from each other, unable to live as one. 

But what makes one family different from another? Nothing! A family is a family no matter what papers they have or don’t have. Families should not be separated by passports and borders! The International Day of Families should not just be for some families – it is for all families! In fact, every day should be family day. 

Recently, the Infomobile started a campaign, sharing stories of families separated between Greece and Germany. We want to shed light on this issue and to struggle with people for their right to family life. Our demands are not exceptional. We do not ask governments do something extra, or out of kindness. We simply demand that European governments fulfil their legal obligations to reunite families, under the European Dublin III Regulation, national and international laws. 

And we will not be silent. These are just four stories of hundreds and we will continue to publishing more:

father is alone in Germany, fighting cancer away from his wife and their 8 year old boy in Greece. They lived in a tent on Samos while he was dying, he had to leave Greece but now he is alone. The family have been separated for 1 year and 4 months already.

12 year old boy is alone in Germany, his mother is dead and his father and three siblings are stuck in Greece. The boy got lost when the family tried to escape Greece together. They were trying to leave because they had suffered sleeping in a tent in Moria together, and then witnessed a terrible fire in the camp on the mainland they were sent to. Now the Greek Asylum Service will not allow them to apply for family reunification. The family have been separated for around 1 year already.

17 year old boy is alone in Germany, away from his parents and three siblings who are in Greece. They were violently pushed back to Greece when trying to escape together as a family. The Greek Asylum Service will not allow them to apply for family reunification. The family have been separated for 2.5 years already.

mother is alone in Germany, fighting cancer away from her husband and four year old son who are in Greece. Their boat almost sank when they risked their lives to reach European soil. Now the mother can only watch her son grow on the phone. The family have been separated for 8 months already.

!The separation of these families, and any families, is unnecessary, unfair and unlawful!

Although an evident injustice, as we say in our introductory statement to the campaign, thousands of families remain torn apart and are kept actively separated by national authorities.

We must raise our voices together with those who are separated from their loved ones especially today and every day!

A psychological expert opinion published as part of our campaign´s introduction, clearly describes the damage that separating families causes. Having that in mind, we insist once more that the well-being of children must be prioritised and their best interests have to be upheld!

Hey governments! Hey politicians! These are real people, like you and I! 

Kids should not be without family to look after them!

Partners should not be apart from each other!

Families should not be missing children!

WE DEMAND ALL FAMILIES TO BE REUNITED NOW!

“Ich sehe meinem Jungen zu wie er grösser wird – jedoch nur übers Handy”

Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien (4)

Der kleine Mohammed* lernt Fahrrad fahren, als seine Mutter Griechenland verlassen hat

Ein Vater mit einem 4 Jahre alten Jungen in Griechenland – die Ehefrau/Mutter leidet an Krebs und unterzieht sich aktuell allein in Deutschland einer Chemotherapie 

Diese Familie gehört nach Hamburg!

Fereshta* (37) heiratete ihren Mann Habib* (33) im Iran. Sie wurde im Iran als Kind afghanischer Flüchtlinge geboren. Habib floh als Teenager mit seiner Familie aus Afghanistan in den Iran. Das Leben im Iran war sehr beschwerlich. Die meisten afghanischen Flüchtlinge im Iran haben entweder eine befristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis, die nur gegen Zahlung einer Gebühr verlängert werden kann, oder sie bleiben ganz ohne Papiere. Während Fereshta eine sechsmonatige Aufenthaltsgenehmigung hatte, war ihr Ehemann undokumentiert, ebenso ihr gemeinsames Kind. Nach ihrer Heirat wurde Habib zweimal verhaftet und zurück nach Afghanistan deportiert. Dort ist er bis heute in Lebensgefahr. 

Im Jahr 2017 erkrankte Fereshta. Ihre Brust schwoll immer mehr an und schmerzte. Sie war nicht krankenversichert, und so dauerte es Monate, bis Habib genug Geld sammeln konnte, um die teure Untersuchung in einem örtlichen Krankenhaus bezahlen zu können. Die Diagnose lautete Brustkrebs und war ein harter Schlag für die Familie. Verzweifelt versuchte Habib, seine Frau zu retten, arbeitete jeden Tag und lieh sich Geld, um die dringend benötigte Chemotherapie zu finanzieren.

Eines Tages, auf dem Rückweg vom Krankenhaus, wurde das Paar von der Polizei kontrolliert, die Habib festnehmen und erneut abschieben wollte. Fereshta weinte und flehte die Beamten an, ihn gehen zu lassen, weil sie krank war und ihn brauchte. Die Familie musste die iranische Polizei letztlich bestechen, um einer Verhaftung zu entgehen.

Nach diesem Vorfall war Fereshta und Habib klar, dass sie nicht länger im Iran bleiben konnten. Sie nahmen ihr kleines Kind und flohen. In den Bergen an der Grenze zur Türkei entdeckte die iranische Grenzpolizei ihre Gruppe. Sie liessen die Hunde auf sie los. Fereshta und ihre Familie konnten entwischen. Sie nahm die Tasche, ihr Mann das Kind. Die Polizei schoss. Noch immer kann sie das Geräusch der Kugeln hören. Sie erinnert sich noch deutlich an die Felsen und Büsche, die sie in Panik durchqueren mussten.

“Jeden Augenblick dachte ich, gleich würde mich eine Kugel treffen. Auf unserem Weg nach Europa gab es viele Momente wie diesen, in denen ich dachte, es wäre unser letzter. Dazwischen gab es diese anderen Momente, in denen ich den Schmerz in meinem Körper wieder stark spürte und ich an den Krebs erinnert wurde.”

Sieben Mal versuchte die Familie, nach Griechenland zu gelangen. Jedes Mal wurde sie von der türkischen Polizei festgenommen und inhaftiert. Fereshta erinnert sich mit Schrecken an die Woche, die sie im Abschiebelager von Izmir verbrachten.

“Bei unserer Ankunft wurden wir alle durchsucht. Die Beamtin war schockiert, als sie meine Brust bei der Durchsuchung abtastete. Sie fühlte sich wie Stein an. Wir waren drei Familien in einer Zelle. Wir konnten nicht hinausgehen. Ich hatte meine Schmerztabletten in meiner Tasche, durfte sie aber nicht holen. Ich saß die ganze Nacht wach und litt. Nach einer Woche brachten sie einen Arzt. Dann wurden wir entlassen…

Bei unserem letzten Versuch, Griechenland zu erreichen, wäre unser Schlauchboot fast gesunken. Die Aussenwand des Bootes hatte ein Loch. Wasser drang ein. Das war zum Winteranfang 2018. Das Wetter war entsprechend schlecht. Nur im letzten Moment wurden wir gerettet.

Sie brachten uns ins Lager Moria. Ich erzählte ihnen von meiner Krankheit. Die Ärztin, die mich untersuchte, bekam Angst, als sie den Zustand meiner Brust sah. Ich wurde zur Untersuchung ins Krankenhaus geschickt. Wir wohnten in einem Container mit drei Familien – insgesamt elf Personen in einem Raum. Dann schickte uns das UNHCR nach Athen,wo wir in einer Wohnung untergebracht wurden.“

Zwei Monate nach ihrer Ankunft in Griechenland wurde Fereshta erneut untersucht, diesmal in Athen. Ihre Chemotherapie begann. Die Therapie zeigte jedoch nicht die erwartete Wirkung. Die Mutter fühlte sich sehr krank, weshalb eine Strahlenbehandlung eingesetzt wurde.

“Die Ärzte sagten, ich müsse operiert werden. Ich würde einen Anruf erhalten, um zu erfahren, wann mein OP-Termin sei. Niemand rief an. Inzwischen taten auch meine Zähne unglaublich weh. Ich bat um Hilfe. Meine Tage waren ausgefüllt von Krankenhausbesuchen. Ich musste mich oft ohne Übersetzer*in verständigen. Manchmal wurde ich weggeschickt, weil sie mich nicht verstehen konnten. Es war nicht leicht.”

Habib hatte Angst und fühlte sich hilflos. Er wusste nicht, ob seine Frau die nötige Behandlung schnell genug erhielt.. Er wollte sie nicht verlieren. Seine Freunde rieten ihm, seine Frau zur Heilung nach Deutschland zu schicken. Was sollte er tun? Sie hatten nicht genug Geld, um zusammen weiter zu fliehen. Sie hatten alle ihre Habe für die Behandlung und die Medikamente im Iran und die Reise nach Griechenland ausgegeben. Er wollte sie aber auch nicht alleine lassen. Schlussendlich entschieden sie gemeinsam, dass Deutschland die einzige Lösung sei. Sie entschieden alles zu tun, um sicherzustellen, dass Fereshta die beste medizinische Versorgung erhielt.

Im September 2019, nach fast einem Jahr in Griechenland, gelang Fereshta die Flucht nach Deutschland. Sie wurde von Spezialisten untersucht und innerhalb weniger Wochen sofort operiert. Bis heute muss sie sich einer Chemotherapie unterziehen. Ihr Asylantrag wurde aus humanitären Gründen mit einem Abschiebeverbot beschlossen. Sie ist mittlerweile in Deutschland ansässig, hat aber keinen internationalen Schutzstatus erhalten und kann daher nur aus humanitären Gründen einen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung stellen. 

Seit mehr als zwei Jahren lehnt Deutschland solche Anträge auf Familienzusammenführung routinemäßig ab, wenn der Familienangehörige in Deutschland ein Abschiebeverbot hat. In der Regel wird dies mit dem Argument begründet, dass das der Asylbescheid in der ersten Instanz negativ gewesen sei. Gleichzeitig erteilt Deutschland jedoch in der Mehrzahl der Fälle afghanischer Asylbewerber nur diesen (nationalen) Abschiebeverbot-Status, der faktisch kein internationalen Schutzstatus darstellt und somit keinen positiven Entscheid. 

Fereshta und Habib kämpfen weiterhin dafür zusammen zu sein – und trotz der geringen Hoffnung eine Lösung zu finden.

“Mein Therapieplan reicht bis 2021. Jede Woche ist Chemotherapie angesetzt. Es ist zermürbend, sie auszuhalten. Das Schlimmste ist die Einsamkeit und dass mein Kind und mein Mann so fern sind. Jeden Tag telefonieren wir. Mein Junge weint oft. Er fragt mich dann, wann er zu mir kommen kann. Er malt sich Pläne aus für diesen Tag. Ich sehe wie er größer wird, aber eben nur auf dem Telefon. Seit ich weg bin, hat er Fahrrad fahren gelernt. Er hat gesagt, dass ich ihm ein Fahrrad kaufen soll, wenn er zu mir nach Deutschland kommt. Es ist schwierig, mit dieser Situation allein fertig zu werden. Weil ich sehr bedrückt bin habe ich eine Psychotherapie begonnen und nehme Medikamente zum Schlafen ein.”

Fereshtas Ehemann Habib leidet nun schon drei Jahre unter dem Druck, seiner Frau nicht helfen zu können. Seit ihrer Ankunft in Griechenland leidet er unter ständigen Kopfschmerzen.

“Jetzt ist sie in guten Händen und wird medizinisch gut versorgt, aber ich bin nicht an ihrer Seite, um sie zu unterstützen. Unser Kind vermisst sie. Er braucht seine Mutter. Wir beide können nicht schlafen. Ich grüble viel. Das ist der Druck des Lebens, den ich spüre. Meine kranke Frau ist so weit weg und wir sind hier gefangen. Unser Sohn glaubt mir nicht mehr, wenn ich ihm sage, dass wir bald bei seiner Mutter sein werden. Er hat sein Vertrauen in seinen Vater verloren. Ich versuche vergeblich, ihm seine Hoffnung zurück zu geben.” 

Ein paar hundert Kilometer nördlich von ihrem Mann und ihrem Kind kämpft Fereshta um ihr Überleben und darum die Hoffnung nicht zu verlieren.

“Ich möchte gesund sein. Ich wünsche mir, dass mein Mann und mein Kind bald hierher kommen. Ich wünsche mir, dass wir zusammen ein friedliches und normales Leben führen können. Ich wünsche mir, dass keine Familie auf dieser Welt getrennt wird!”

* Namen geändert

„Wir sollten jetzt bei ihm sein, und er braucht uns auch!“

Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien (3)
Zinab* und Ahmed in Griechenland sprechen mit Farhad, der in Deutschland im Krankenhaus liegt.

Ein Mann getrennt von seiner Frau und seinem kleinen Kind, die in Griechenland festhängen . er stirbt in Deutschland an Krebs

Diese Familie gehört nach Aachen!

Zinab* kam mit ihrem Mann Farhad und ihrem Sohn Ahmed, der 8 Jahre alt ist, nach Griechenland. Jetzt ist Farhad in Deutschland, von seiner Frau und seinem Sohn getrennt. Er befindet sich im Spätstadium seiner Krebserkrankung und hat nur noch wenige Monate zu leben.

Die Familie ist kurdisch, aus Afrin (Syrien). In der Türkei erfuhr Farhad, dass er schwer an Krebs erkrankt war. Da er aber Kurde ist, beantwortete keines der Krankenhäuser in der Türkei die Fragen der Familie oder kümmerte sich um sein Wohlergehen. Die Familie wurde in der Türkei allein aufgrund ihrer Kurdischen Herkunft wiederholt belästigt. Es war kein sicherer Ort für sie.

So riskierte die Familie im März 2018 ihr aller Leben, um sich in Europa in Sicherheit zu bringen, und fuhr mit einem Schlauchboot auf die griechische Insel Samos. Sie schliefen 40 Tage lang zusammengedrängt in einem Sommerzelt im “Hotspot” Vathy auf der Insel. Farhad war unglaublich krank – er erbrach sich und konnte nichts essen. Aufgrund der schrecklichen Lebensbedingungen verschlechterte sich seine Situation.

Als die Ärzte ihn untersuchten, sagten sie, er würde sterben. Es war kalt und regnete, und der Boden unter ihnen im Zelt war nass. Ahmed flehte seine Familie an, Griechenland zu verlassen. Er konnte die Toiletten nicht benutzen, da sie so schmutzig waren. Es gab kein warmes Wasser zum Waschen. Farhad litt unter den Schmerzen, und seine Familie hatte nur kaltes Wasser, um ihn zu baden, und die kalte Erde zum Schlafen.

Da Farhad dringend medizinische Hilfe benötigte, wurde die Familie in ein Flüchtlingslager auf dem griechischen Festland verlegt. Farhad befand sich in dem isolierten Lager fast einen Monat lang immer noch unter starken Schmerzen.

Als Farhad im Lager auf dem Festland ankam, hörten seine Schmerzen nicht auf. Drei Mal musste ein Krankenwagen die weite Strecke zum Lager der Familie zurücklegen, weil Farhad solche Schmerzen hatte. Sie injizierten ihm Schmerzmittel. Schließlich wurde er ins Krankenhaus gebracht, wo er zwei Monate lang blieb.

Farhad musste viele Untersuchungen machen und hatte eine Notoperation, die elf Stunden dauerte. Zinab wurde gewarnt, dass er diese möglicherweise nicht überleben würde. Zinab und Ahmed schliefen 4 Tage lang im Krankenhaus, weil das Lager, in dem sie lebten, über eine Stunde entfernt war.

Wenige Tage bevor Farhad das Krankenhaus verließ, wurden Zinab und ihr Kind in eine Wohnung in Athen verlegt. Farhad wurde dann entlassen, aber er musste jede Woche ins Krankenhaus zurückgehen und nahm regelmässig Medikamente ein.

Die Familie blieb etwa sechs Monate in Athen zusammen, aber alle, auch Farhads Ärzte, sagten, dass er bessere Überlebenschancen hätte, wenn er in Deutschland behandelt würde, weil dort ein besser ausgestattetes öffentliches Gesundheitssystem bestehe und der Zugang zu den notwendigen Medikamenten gesichert sei. Farhad sagte, seine griechischen Ärzte behandelten ihn sehr gut, aber er hoffe, dass er anderswo mehr Chancen habe sich zu erholen und seine gefährliche Krankheit zu überleben.

Während seiner gesamten Zeit in Griechenland litt Farhad sehr. Er hatte sogar daran gedacht, Selbstmord zu begehen, um seinen Schmerz zu beenden. Es war eine schwere Entscheidung und eine zermürbende Reise, aber im Januar 2019 floh Farhad allein weiter nach Deutschland. Der Familie fehlte die finanzielle Möglichkeit, ihn zu begleiten. Er ging nach Deutschland, um gesund zu werden und um für sein Leben und für seine Familie zu kämpfen.

Die Familie hatte keine Ahnung, dass sie am Ende für so lange Zeit getrennt sein würden. Als sie begriffen, wie schwierig es war, wieder zusammen zu finden, suchten sie sich in Athen eine Anwältin, die ihnen mit ihrem Familiennachzug über die deutsche Botschaft hilft.

Doch über ein Jahr später ist die Familie noch immer getrennt. Wegen des Krieges ist es schwierig, wichtige Dokumente aus Syrien zu erhalten. Farhad hat nicht mehr lange zu leben.

Die Familie telefoniert fast täglich per Videoanruf, aber das ist ein grausamer Ersatz für das gemeinsame Leben am gleichen Ort, vor allem, wenn nur noch wenig Zeit bleibt. In seinen wachen Stunden spricht Ahmed von seinem Vater – er erzählt seinen Freunden in der Schule, dass er bald zu ihm nach Deutschland gehen wird. Er fragt seine Mutter, wann er seinen Vater wieder küssen oder mit ihm durch die Straßen spazieren kann. Während er schläft, träumt Ahmed von Farhad.

Auch Zinab kann das Leben ohne ihren Mann neben ihr nicht ertragen. Sie fürchtet, dass niemand bei ihm ist, um die einfachen Dinge für ihn zu erledigen, mit ihm zu reden, ihm ein Glas Wasser zu geben.

In den letzten Wochen ist Farhad mehrfach operiert worden. Der kleine Ahmed weint tagelang, er sagt, er möchte seinen Vater sehen, er möchte, dass seine Familie zusammen ist. Zinab versucht, stark zu sein, aber auch sie weint oft.

“Wir sollten jetzt bei ihm sein, und er braucht uns auch!”

Zinab

* Namen geändert

Einige Fakten über die Hindernisse in der medizinischen Versorgung, denen Krebspatient*innen in Griechenland gegenüberstehen

Seit vielen Jahren sehen sich alle Krebspatient*innen in Griechenland mit großen Hindernissen konfrontiert, um rechtzeitig die notwendigen Diagnosen, Untersuchungen und Behandlungen zu erhalten. Sparmaßnahmen haben das öffentliche Gesundheitssystem seit Beginn der Schuldenkrise in Griechenland im Jahr 2009 hart getroffen. Krebspatient*innen gehören zu denjenigen, die am meisten leiden.

Die Mittel für staatliche Krankenhäuser wurden in den letzten zehn Jahren um mehr als 50% gekürzt. Er besteht ein gravierender Mangel an allem: von Bettlaken, Gaze und Spritzen bis hin zu Ärzt*innen und Krankenschwestern. Die Patient*innen, die es sich leisten können, wenden sich daher oft an private Gesundheitsfürsorge. Alle anderen haben es schwer.

Eine neue Studie mit dem Titel “Ein neues nationales Gesundheitssystem”, die von Dianeosis in Auftrag gegeben wurde, fand heraus, dass Griechenland heute nur 5 Prozent seines Bruttoinlandsprodukts für die öffentliche Gesundheitsversorgung ausgibt, während der Durchschnitt der Europäischen Union (EU) bei 7 Prozent liegt.

“Die sichere Mindestgrenze für jedes Gesundheitssystem liegt, wie wir wiederholt betont haben, bei 6 Prozent des BIP”.

Panhellenische Ärztekammer 2019

Die Autor*innen der Studie führen die Krise des Gesundheitswesens in Griechenland auf Mittelkürzungen, Personalmangel und Missmanagement zurück, deren Ursache in einem Jahrzehnt der Sparmaßnahmen liegt. Eine weitere Folge davon ist, dass die junge Generation der griechischen Ärzt*nnen gezwungen war, auf der Suche nach Arbeit zu emigrieren. Es wird geschätzt, dass mehr als 15.000 Ärzte das Land verlassen haben hauptsächlich in Richtung Grossbritannien, Deutschland, Zypern und Schweden.

Die Schwierigkeiten beim Zugang zu und bei der Inanspruchnahme von Gesundheitsdiensten in Griechenland existieren vor allem für diejenigen, die sie am dringendsten benötigen, und setzen somit den Faktor der Gleichheit und sozialen Gerechtigkeit aufs Spiel.

Darüber hinaus ergab die Studie, dass heute jede*r fünfte Griech*in nicht in der Lage ist, sich die notwendigen Gesundheitsdienste zu leisten. Jede*r dritte Krebspatient*in ist zudem nicht in der Lage, seinen*ihren Arzt regelmäßig aufzusuchen, während jede*r vierte Schwierigkeiten hat, die benötigte Medizin zu erhalten.

Der verhinderte Zugang zu notwendigen Medikamenten ist ein grosses Problem mit möglicherweise tödlichen Folgen. Krebsmedikamente sind lebenswichtig, aber oft unzugänglich. Im Februar 2020 prangerte der Pharmazeutische Verband von Athen den gravierenden Mangel an spezialisierten Medikamenten in Griechenland an, unter anderem solcher, die zur Kontrolle der Nebenwirkungen der Chemotherapie für Krebspatienten, aber auch für die Chemotherapie selbst eingesetzt werden. Die Hellenic Cancer Federation (ELLOK) appellierte am 22.1.2020 an das Gesundheitsministerium, Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, um die Versorgung mit Medikamenten zu normalisieren. Der Mangel an antineoplastischen Grundarzneimitteln für Krebspatienten bedeutet nach Ansicht der Föderation schwerwiegende Verzögerungen und Absagen der Chemotherapien, die Patient*nnen und Ärzt*nnen zur Verzweiflung bringen.

Viele Medikamente gelangen zwar nach Griechenland, werden dann aber in andere Länder wie Deutschland weiter gehandelt, die höhere Preise dafür zahlen. Dann gibt es Medikamente, die zwar unentbehrlich, aber so billig sind, dass kein Unternehmen sie nach Griechenland importieren wird. Diese sollten durch Notimporte gedeckt werden, aber die zuständige Regierungsbehörde hat keine Mittel, um sie zu bezahlen, und hat die Bestellungen eingestellt. Gleichzeitig hat die griechische Regierung offene Schulden bei vielen Apotheken des Einzelhandels, so der Panhellenische Pharmazeutische Verband (PFS), so dass viele von den Patienten gezwungen sind Vorauszahlungen für Medikamente zu zahlen.

“Es ist eine Sache, einen Patienten zu bitten, seine eigene Decke mit ins Krankenhaus zu bringen. Und eine ganz andere, ihm ein Medikament vorzuenthalten, das den Unterschied zwischen Leben und Tod bedeutet.”

Persefoni Mitta, Leiterin der Vereinigung der Krebspatienten in Mazedonien und Thrakien

Während der Covid-19-Pandemie sind die Dinge noch schwieriger geworden. Heute besteht das Hauptproblem in den langen Wartelisten für Strahlentherapie und Operationen. Zoe Grammatoglou von der Vereinigung der Krebspatienten, Freiwilligen, Freunde und Ärzte in Athen erklärt:

“Im Attika-Krankenhaus in Athen beträgt die durchschnittliche Wartezeit für eine Strahlentherapie derzeit 3-4 Monate. Diese Verzögerungen gab es auch schon vor der Covid-19-Pandemie aufgrund des Personalmangels in den Krankenhäusern. Die durchschnittliche Wartezeit für Operationen beträgt derzeit etwa einen Monat. Alle Termine in öffentlichen Krankenhäusern haben sich weiter verzögert. Es ist sehr wichtig hinzuzufügen, dass es in Griechenland keine Hospize für die Betreuung von Personen im letzten Krebsstadium gibt”.

Zoe Grammatoglou (13.04.2020)

Im Falle von Geflüchteten und Migrant*innen gibt es noch größere Hindernisse für den Zugang zu kostenloser medizinischer Versorgung, insbesondere seit Juli 2019, als die rechtsgerichtete Partei Nea Demokratia gewählt wurde. Die neue Regierung weigerte sich weiter Drittstaatsangehörigen eine Sozialversicherungsnummern (AMKA) zuzuweisen. Ärzte ohne Grenzen (MSF) schätzte Anfang dieses Jahres, dass 55.000 Schutzsuchende ohne Zugang zur öffentlichen Gesundheitsversorgung geblieben sind, und prangerte insbesondere die verheerende Situation für schwerkranke Kinder im “Hotspot” Moria auf Lesvos an.

“Wir sehen viele Kinder, die an Krankheiten wie Diabetes, Asthma und Herzkrankheiten leiden, die gezwungen sind, in Zelten zu leben, unter miserablen, unhygienischen Bedingungen, ohne Zugang zu spezialisierter medizinischer Versorgung und Medikamenten, die sie brauchen”.

Dr. Hilde Vochten, medizinische Koordinatorin von Ärzte ohne Grenzen in Griechenland

Mitte April 2020 sollte ein neues Sozialversicherungssystem starten (PAAYPA), über welches Asylsuchenden eine vorläufige Sozialversicherungsnummer zugewiesen werden soll. Es wurde angekündigt, dass das System ab dem 15. April in Kraft treten sollte. Bislang funktioniert es aber noch nicht wie versprochen.

Covid-19 hat zudem weitere Hürden für die Gesundheitsfürsorge geschaffen, da Schutzsuchende, die Griechenland erreichen, zunächst ihren Asylantrag registrieren müssen, um ihren Aufenthalt zu regularisieren. Erst dann haben sie Anspruch auf eine PAAYPA-Nummer. Da die griechische Asylbehörde seit dem 13. März geschlossen ist und bis mindestens 15. Mai geschlossen bleibt, können Schutzsuchende zur Zeit kein Asyl beantragen. Daher müssen Menschen mit chronischen und schweren Krankheiten unter Umständen monatelang warten, bis sie Zugang zur notwendigen medizinischen Versorgung haben. Bis dahin steht ihnen nur die Notfallversorgung zur Verfügung.

Solange Schutzsuchende kein Asyl beantragen können, haben sie zudem keinen Zugang zu den Geldleistungen für Asylsuchende, was bedeutet, dass sie alle Medikamente selbst bezahlen müssen.

Schutzsuchende, die von der Landgrenze in der Region Evros ankommen, sehen sich mit einem systematischen Mangel an Aufnahmebedingungen konfrontiert, da ihre Asylanträge in der Regel nicht im Aufnahme- und Identifizierungszentrum (RIC) von Fylakio registriert werden. Nach ihrer Freilassung erreichen sie Thessaloniki oder Athen selbst und bleiben meist wochen- oder monatelang obdachlos.

Gleichzeitig sitzen Schutzsuchende, die auf den Ägäischen Inseln ankommen, unter Tausenden von anderen in den berüchtigten “Hotspot”-Lagern von Moria (Lesvos), Vathy (Samos), Vial (Chios), auf Leros und Kos fest und leben unter höchst prekären Bedingungen in Zelten oder überfüllten Containern. Seit den jüngsten Gesetzesänderungen werden Neuankömmlinge nach März 2020 regelmäßig inhaftiert und sehen sich beim Zugang zum öffentlichen Gesundheitssystem mit noch größeren Lücken konfrontiert.

Der UNHCR Griechenland hat kürzlich auf die Probleme im “Hotspot” Moria hingewiesen.

“Abdul, 67, sitzt auf einem Hocker vor seinem Zelt. In Afghanistan war bei Abdul Lungenkrebs diagnostiziert worden. Abdul sagte, er sei seit seiner Ankunft im Lager mit nichts anderem als Paracetamol behandelt worden. Das medizinische Personal in Moria und im örtlichen Krankenhaus ist überfordert. NGOs und freiwillige Ärzte arbeiten rund um die Uhr. Trotzdem können sie sich oft nur um die dringendsten Notfälle kümmern, und selbst schwere chronische Krankheiten bleiben unbehandelt”.

UNHCR, 21. Februar 2020

Während der Covid-19-Pandemie hat Griechenland eine landesweite Ausgnangsperre ab 23. März 2020 erklärt (Kommentar der Autorinnen: sie endete am 4. Mai). Für Asylbewerber und Flüchtlinge gilt somit nicht #stayathome , sondern #stayinthecamp.

Bis heute sind drei Flüchtlingslager auf dem griechischen Festland für eine 14-tägige Quarantäne gesperrt worden, da bei Bewohner*innen Covid-19 diagnostiziert wurde. Menschenrechtsaktivist*innen auf der ganzen Welt fordern #LeaveNoOneBehind, die Evakuierung der Lager und die Entlassung der Menschen aus der Haft. Es sind Rufe laut geworden, unbegleitete minderjährige Flüchtlinge aus Griechenland umzusiedeln, und die ersten 62 sind nach Luxemburg und Deutschland gereist.

Wir müssen unsere Stimmen auch für die Familien erheben, die zwischen zwei Ländern getrennt wurden, die Opfer von Grenzen und der restriktiven Migrationspolitik sind wie jene in Deutschland, dem Land, das seit mehr als zwei Jahren Anträge auf Familienzusammenführung systematisch und meist ohne Einzelfallprüfung ablehnt.

Starke Verzögerungen beim Zugang zu dringenden medizinischen Untersuchungen und den notwendigen Medikamenten, die Diagnostik, Therapie und falls nötig auch Operation für Krebspatient*innen zu gewährleisten, können Menschenleben kosten.

STOPPT DIE KÜRZUNGEN IM GESUNDHEITSWESEN!
GEBT DEN ARBEITERINNEN MEDIZINISCHER BERUFE DIE NOTWENDIGEN WERKZEUGE, UM LEBEN ZU RETTEN!
ZUGANG ZU KOSTENLOSER GESUNDHEITSVERSORGUNG FÜR ALLE!
LAGER SCHLIEßEN UND HÄUSER ÖFFNEN!
ALLE FAMILIEN GEHÖREN ZUSAMMEN!

“I see my boy growing, but only through the phone.”

A campaign to reunite families separated between Germany and Greece (4)

Small Mohammed* learned to ride a bicycle after his mother left Greece

A father with a 4-year-old boy in Greece – the wife / mother suffering cancer and going through chemotherapy alone in Germany 

This family belongs to Hamburg!

Fereshta* (37) married her husband Habib* (33) in Iran. She was born there as an Afghan refugee. Habib was born in Afghanistan but escaped with his family as a teenager. Life in Iran was hard. Most Afghan refugees in Iran have either temporary permission to stay, which can only be renewed upon payment of fees, or remain undocumented. While Fereshta had a six-month residence permit, her husband was without any documents and so was their child upon birth. After their marriage, Habib was arrested twice and deported back to Afghanistan, where he is in danger until today. 

In 2017 Fereshta fell ill. Her breast became more and more swollen and painful. She had no health insurance and so it took months until Habib could collect enough money to pay for the expensive examination at a local hospital. The diagnosis was bad. She had breast cancer. Desperate to save his wife, Habib worked every day and borrowed money to finance the chemotherapy she urgently needed. One day, on their way back from the hospital, the couple were controlled by police who wanted to arrest Habib and deport him once again. Fereshta cried and begged the officers to let him go because she was sick. The family had to bribe the Iranian police to escape.

After this incident, it was clear to Fereshta and Habib that they could no longer stay in Iran. They took their small child and fled. In the mountains at the border to Turkey the Iranian border police detected their group. They let the dogs loose on them. Fereshta and her family ran. She took the bag and her husband their child. The police shot. She can still hear the sound of the bullets. She remembers the stones and bushes they had to cross through in panic.

“Every moment I thought, this bullet will hit me. On our way to Europe there were many moments like this one, when I thought it was our last. In between there were the moments I felt the pain in my body so strong and I remembered the cancer.”

Seven times the family tried to cross to Greece. Every time the Turkish police would arrest and detain them. Fereshta remembers with terror a week they spent in Izmir detention centre.

“Upon arrival, we were all body searched. The officer was shocked when she touched my breast. It felt like a stone. We were three families in one cell. We could not go out. I had my painkillers in my bag but I was not allowed to take them. I was sitting awake all night suffering. After a week, they brought a doctor. Then we got released…”

On our final attempt to reach Greece, our boat almost sank. There was a hole in it. Water was entering. It was the beginning of winter 2018 and the weather was bad. In the last moment we were saved. They brought us to Moria camp. I told them about my sickness. The doctor who examined me also got scared when she felt the state of my breast. I was sent to hospital for examinations. We stayed in a container with three families – a total of eleven people in one room. Then the UNHCR sent us to Athens to live in a house.”

Two months after arriving to Greece, Fereshta was examined again, this time in Athens. Her chemotherapy started. But it did not have the expected effects. The mother felt very sick and radiotherapy had to be initiated.

“The doctors said I needed an operation. I would receive a call to know when my appointment was. No one called. Meanwhile my teeth were hurting me a lot. I asked for help. My days were marked by visits to the hospital. I had to go there many times without a translator. Sometimes I was sent away, because they couldn’t understand me. It was not easy.”

Habib was scared and felt helpless. He didn’t know if his wife was receiving the treatment she needed and if it was in time. He didn’t want to lose her. His friends all told him that it would be better to send her to Germany to be healed. What to do? There was not enough money to go together. They had spent everything they had for treatment and medication in Iran and then to reach Greece. On the other hand, he didn’t want to leave her alone. The parents decided together that there was no other solution. They had to do everything possible to make sure she had the best medical care.

In September 2019, after almost one year in Greece, Fereshta arrived in Germany. She was examined by specialists and within just a few weeks she had an operation. Even today she must continue to undergo chemotherapy. Her asylum application was accepted on humanitarian grounds with a deportation ban (Abschiebungsverbot). She is legally resident in Germany now, but she didn’t get an international protection status and thus can only apply for family reunification based on humanitarian grounds. 

For more than two years, Germany routinely rejects such family reunification applications if the family member in Germany has Abschiebungsverbot, typically arguing that the first instance asylum procedure has been concluded negatively. At the same time, Germany in the majority of cases of Afghan asylum seekers issues only this Abschiebungsverbot status. 

Fereshta and Habib struggle hard despite the little hope to find a solution to be together.

“My therapy plan is scheduled to go on until 2021. Every week I have chemotherapy. It is tough to bear it. The worst thing is that I am alone and that my child and my husband are far from me. Every day we talk on the phone. My boy cries. He asks me when he can come to me. He makes plans for that day. I see him growing, but only through the phone. He learnt to ride a bicycle since I last saw him. He wants me to buy him a bicycle when he comes to me in Germany. It is difficult to deal with this situation alone. I had many bad thoughts. Then I started visiting a psychologist. I take medication to sleep now.”

It is now three years that Fereshta’s husband Habib has had the pressure of finding a way for his wife to heal. Since they reached Greece he suffers from constant headaches.

“Now she is in good hands and has proper medical care but I am not by her side to support her. Our child misses her. He needs his mother. We both cannot sleep. I am thinking a lot. It’s the pressure of life. My sick wife is there, we are here. Our son doesn’t believe me anymore, when I tell him we will soon be with his mother. He has lost his trust in his father. I still try to give him hope.” 

A few hundred kilometres north from her husband and child, Fereshta tries not to lose hope as she struggles to survive.

“I wish to be healthy. I wish for my husband and my child to come here soon. I wish for us to have a peaceful and normal life together. I wish that no family in this world will get separated!”

* names changed

درخواست حمایت مادران کمپ مالاکاسا

سلام از کمپ(قدیمی) ملکاسا اردوگاه پناهندگان و بهترین آرزوهای ما برای همه مردم خارج از اینجا،

ما این نامه را به آنهایی که در تلاش برای ارائه کمک به مردم نیازمند هستند، نوشته تا از ایشان بخواهیم که ما مردم کمپ ملکآسا را تنها رها نکنید، به خصوص در طول قرنطینه COVID-19!

زندگی در اردوگاه های یونان به طور کلی بسیار دشوار است. ما مشکلات زیادی داریم، اما فقط تعداد کمی از آنها را ذکر می کنیم، که در حال حاضر فشار زیادی بر ما وارد آورده:

کمبود خدمات صحی در داخل اردوگاه، به خصوص برای کسانی که علائم Covid-19 را دارند، کسانی که بیماری های مزمن و جدی دارند و یا بیماران روحی و روانی که به طور منظم نیاز به مراقبت پزشکی و دارو دارند

کمبود داروی کافی در اردوگاه، به عنوان مثال: Depon ، آموکسی سیلین ، پاراستامول. در طی قرنطینه ما مجازبه خروج از کمپ نیستیم. بسیاری وقت ها نیز قبل از همه گیر شدن ویروس,  به ما گفته می شد که میبایست داروهایمان را به هزینه خودمان خریداری کنیم. بسیاری از ما AMKA نداریم. بسیاری از مردم  حتی قبل از قرنتینه کردن کمپ با مشکلات متفاوت مواجه بوده اند، همچون نداشتن پول برای خرید نیازهای اولیه در حالیکه در انتظار دریافت کارت کمک نقدی بودند و هستند. در حال حاضر، ما حتی نمی توانیم جهت رفتن به داروخانه از کمپ خارج شویم. ما به طور کامل وابسته به داروهایی که ممکن است توسط پزشکان اردوگاه داده شود، هستیم ولی کمبودها بسیار زیاد است! بعد از ظهر و طی تعطیلات آخر هفته هیچ دکتری در اینجا وجود دارد. ما در این مبارزه ی سراسر جهان برای سلامت، احساس خلع سلاح بودن می کنیم.

عدم دسترسی ایمن به آب تمیز جاری درداخل اردوگاه و عدم آب آشامیدنی. چگونه می توانیم اقدامات پیشگیرانه ای که ما توضیح داده اند را دنبال نماییم، وقتی که ما حتی به آب تمیز دسترسی نداریم ؟

عدم ایمنی و امنیت برای همه در اردوگاه، به خصوص در شب. پلیس در خارج از اردوگاه به جهت ممانعت از رفتن ما به خارج حضور دارد، اما در داخل ما زمانی که هیچ سازمان در طول شب و تعطیلات آخر هفته وجود ندارد ، تنها باقی مانده ایم. ما به طور خاص نگرانی زیادی برای امنیت کودکان مان داریم! ما حبس شده ایم، حالات روانی مردم بدتر از قبل شده است و ما نمی دانیم که در صورت موارد اضطراری به چه کسی مراجعه کنیم. 

فقدان گسترده دسترسی به شبکه فای پایدار (اینترنت) در کمپ، به طوری که مردم بتوانند در مورد اخبار روزانه مطلع گشته، و یا بتوانند با شماره های اورژانس ارایه شده توسط مدیریت اردوگاه در تماس گردند. ما همچنین نیاز به حفظ ارتباط خود به جهان خارج  از اینجا می باشیم، به طور خاص با خانواده های مان که برای ایشان در این زمان نگران بوده همانگونه که شما برای عزیزان خود نگران هستید. 

 عدم دسترسی به دستگاههای خودپرداز و وسترن یونیون و مغازه ها. در طول قرنطینه آنها به ما اجازه خروج از اردوگاه را نمی دهند، بنابراین کسانی که کارت های کمک نقدی دارند نمی توانند پول را از بانک ها برداشت کنند و ممکن است آخرین پرداخت ها را از دست بدهند و دیگران نمی توانند از بستگان  ایشان در کشورهای دیگر پول دریافت کنند. بسیاری از ما بدون پول نقد باقی مانده ایم. ما همچنین نمی توانیم چیزی را از مغازه ها در داخل اردوگاه خریداری کنیم. مغازه ها از شروع زمان قرنتینه، قیمت های خود را دو برابر کرده اند. 

کمبود مواد غذایی ویتامینه و عرضه ناکافی محصولات غذایی اولیه. سبدهای مواد غذایی که ما یک بار در هفته دریافت می کنیم حاوی میوه و سبزیجات تازه نمی باشد. ما نیاز به ویتامین ها برای بچه های مان, سالمند و بیماران داشته تا حداقل در برابر ویروس سالم و قوی بوده و یا مقاومت کنند. همچنین, ما محصولات اساسی کافی مانند روغن, تخم مرغ و آرد دریافت نکرده که بتوانیم یک وعده غذایی کافی تهیه نماییم.

  •  عدم وجود ماسک، دستکش و اسپری های ضد عفونی. ما هیچ نوع مواد بهداشت جهت محافظت از خودمان در برابر آلوده شدن توسط ویروس ارایه نشده است, این در حالی است که ما بیش از ۱,۸۰۰ نفر یکجا با هم حبس شده و در کنار هم زندگی می کنیم و دارای تعداد نامعلومی از مبتلایان به ویروس می باشیم. در میان ما بسیاری افراد دارای آسیب پذیری جدی می باشند: سالمندان, کودکان و نوجوانان, افراد مبتلا به دیابت, افراد با اختلالات قلبی و دیگر بیماری های مزمن. ما نیاز به ماسک و دستکش یا اسپری ضد عفونی داریم -حداقل برای محافظت از افراد آسیب پذیر در میان ما. 

کسانی که در چادر زندگی میکنند، حتی با مشکلات بیشتری روبرو هستند:

  •  عدم داشتن سرپناه کافی. بیش از ۴۰۰ نفر (در میان آنها بسیاری کودک) در خیمه های تابستانی می خوابند. حتی اگر ما فرض کنیم که هیچ راه حل دیگری غیر از این خیمه ها برای تازه واردان وجود دارد، و در حالی که ظرفیت کانکس ها تا حداکثر و بیش ازاندازه پر می باشد، اما حتی جای مناسب برای این خیمه ها نیز وجود ندارد. جایی که آنها بتوانند از تحولات آب و هوا محافظت شوند و در فاصله امن از یکدیگر قرار گیرند. در حال حاضر و در طول این بیماری همه گیر، چندین نفر در خیمه هایی که در فاصله بسیار نزدیک به یکدیگر هستند، در داخل یک خیمه ی بزرگ و یک ساختمان دیگر قرار داده شده اند. دیگران نیز در زیر آسمان آزاد خیمه زده اند و از هر بار بارندگی و طوفان رنج می برند. ما نمی توانیم در اینجا به شیوه های رعایت فاصله اجتماعی عمل کنیم(برای پیشگیری از شیوع ویروس)! ما نمی توانیم خودمان را از سرما اینگونه محافظت کنیم! بسیاری از ما مریض هستند و ما با توجه به شرایط زندگی بد در اینجا، نمی توانیم بفهمیم که ما خنک(سرما) خورده ایم و یا اینکه توسط ویروس آلوده شده ایم. 
  • کمبود آب گرمدر حمام های مشترک و شیر های آب. چگونه می توانیم چیزهایی مانند ظروف و یا لباس های مان را بدون داشتن آب گرم ضد عفونی نماییم؟ چگونه می توانیم از صابون استفاده می کنیم، هنگامی که مداوم آب قطع می گردد؟ چگونه ما باید فاصله از یکدیگر را رعایت کنیم زمانی که شیرها ی آب همه در یکجا و در کنار یکدیگر قرار داده شده اند؟
  •  کمبود توالت های تمیز و قابل استفاده.توالت های کثیف که مردم بدون سرپناه مناسب آنها رابه اشتراک استفاده می کنند یک منبع بیشتر از عفونت و سرایت می باشد.

به دلیل نیاز به کمک، بسیاری از ما از جان گذشته و خواهان بیرون رفتن از کمپ هستند. تا که قادر باشیم که خانواده های مان را امن, تمیز, سالم, و از گرسنگی محافظت کنیم, این بدان معنی است که ما برای چیزهای اساسی تر از فقط در برابر یک ویروس در حال مبارزه هستیم.

ما از شما می خواهیم تا زمانی که ما نمی توانیم بیرون برویم و به طور کامل بر آنچه که به ما داده می شود وابسته هستیم ، در همبستگی با ما بایستید.

ما به طور عاجل به موارد زیر نیاز داریم:

  • ماسک (حداقل برای افراد مبتلا و آسیب پذیر)
  • دستکش و یا اسپری های ضد عفونی
  • داروهای ضد تب برای بزرگسالان و کودکان مانند قرص Depon و شربت Depon (برای بچه ها)
  • میوه ها و سبزیجات تازه (کچالو{سیب زمینی} ، پیاز ، گوجه فرنگی عمدتا)
  • روغن ، آرد ، تخم مرغ
  • Pampers و شیر بچه

با تشکر،

مادران ملکآسا اردوگاه پناهندگان

(21.04.2020–پس از تمدید قرنطینه ما و حبس که در تاریخ 5 آپریل آغاز شده)

Call for help from mothers in the quarantined Malakasa refugee camp

copyright: private

Hello from the (open) Malakasa refugee camp and our best wishes to all people outside,

We write this letter to ask you, the ones struggling to offer aid and assistance to people in need, to not leave us the people of Malakasa camp alone, especially during the COVID-19 quarantine!

It is very difficult to live a life in the Greek camps in general. We have many problems, but we will mention only a few of them, that are putting a lot of pressure on us now:

1. Lack of sufficient medical services inside the camp, specifically for those with Covid-19 symptoms and those with chronic and serious diseases or the mentally ill who need regular follow-ups and medication

2. Lack of sufficient medicine in the camp, for example: Depon, Amoxicillin, Paracetamol. During the quarantine we are not allowed outside. Most of the times also before the pandemic, we were told to buy our medicines ourselves. Most of us have no AMKA. Many faced problems already before the lock down as they lack money to buy anything still waiting for their Cash-Cards. Now, we cannot even go out to a pharmacy. We depend completely on what medicines we may be given by the camp doctors and these are highly limited! In the afternoons and weekends there is no doctor here anyway. We feel unarmed in this worldwide struggle for health. 

3. Lack of secured access to clean running water inside the camp and lack of drinking water. How can we follow the preventative measures explained to us if we have not even that?

4. Lack of safety and security for everyone in the camp, particularly at night. There are police outside the camp to hinder us from going outside, but inside we are left alone when no organization is present during the nights and weekends. We worry a lot for the safety of our children specifically! We are locked-up, peoples’ psychology has become worse and we don’t know who to address during an emergency. 

5. Lack of camp wide stable WIFI access (internet), so that people can be informed about the daily news, can contact the emergency number handed out by the camp management. We also need to keep up our contacts to the outside world and specifically to our families whom we worry about in these times as you worry for your beloved ones. 

6. Lack of access to ATMs and Western Union and shops. During quarantine they do not give us permission to exit the camp so the ones with Cash-Cards cannot withdraw money from banks any may lose the last charges and the others cannot receive money from relatives in other countries. Many of us are left without any cash. We also cannot purchase anything from the shops inside the camp. The shops have doubled their prices since the lockdown. 

7. Lack of vitamin food products and insufficient supply of basic food products. The food baskets we receive once a week do not contain fresh fruits and vegetables. We need vitamins for our kids, the elder and the sick at least to be healthy and strong and resist the virus. Also, we do not receive sufficient basic products such as oil, eggs and flour in order to secure sufficient meals.

8. Lack of masks, gloves and disinfection sprays. We were not handed any materials to protect ourselves from getting infected by the virus, while we are more than 1,800 persons locked up together and living side by side with an unknown number of infected. Among us are many highly vulnerable persons: elderly, kids, persons with Diabetes, heart disorders and other chronic diseases. We need masks and gloves or disinfection sprays – at least to protect the vulnerable among us. 

Those of us who live in tents face even more problems: 

9. Lack of adequate shelter. More than 400 people (among them many kids) sleep in summer tents and even if we assume that there is no other solution than these tents for newcomers, while the containers (prefabs) have exceeded their capacity, there is also no suitable place for these tents where they could be protected from the weather AND be in safe distance to each other. Even now during the pandemic, several people are sleeping in tents which are placed in a very close distance to each other inside a big tent and another building. Others have placed their tents under the sky and suffer from every rainfall and storm. We cannot practice social distancing here! We cannot protect ourselves from the cold like this! Many of us are sick and we cannot understand if we have a cold due to the bad living conditions or if we got infected by the virus. 

10. Lack of hot water in the commonly shared showers and water taps. How we should disinfect things like our plates or clothes without hot water? How should we use the soaps, when there are water cuts? How we should keep distance from each other when water taps are placed all together and next to each other?

11. Lack of clean and functioning toilets. The filthy toilets people without proper shelter have to share are a further source of infections. 

The reason why many of us are desperate to go out of the camp is because we need help. If we cannot keep our families safe, clean, healthy, protected from hunger, we struggle for more basic things than just against a virus. 

We ask you to stand in solidarity with us at least as long as we cannot go out and completely depend on what is given to us.

We urgently need the following items:

  • Masks (at least for the infected and the vulnerable)
  • Gloves or disinfection sprays 
  • Antipyretic medication for adults and kids such as Depon and Depon Syrup (for kids)
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (potatoes, onions, tomatoes mainly)
  • Oil, flour, eggs
  • Pampers and baby milk

Sincerely,

Mothers of Malakasa refugee camp

(21.04.2020 – after the extension of our quarantine and lock down that started on 5 April)

“We should be with him now, and he needs us too!”

A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece

Zinab* and Ahmed in Greece speak with Farhad, who lies in hospital in Germany

A man separated from his wife and young child stuck in Greece – he is dying of cancer in Germany

Zinab* came to Greece with her husband Farhad and son Ahmed who is 8 years old. Now Farhad is in Germany, separated from his wife and son and he is in the late stages of cancer, with only months to live.

The family are Kurdish, from Afrin (Syria). It was in Turkey that Farhad found out he was seriously ill with cancer. But because he is Kurdish, none of the hospitals in Turkey answered the family’s questions or cared for his wellbeing. The family were harassed regularly in Turkey only because they are Kurdish. It was not a safe place for them.

So, in March 2018 the family risked their lives to find safety in Europe and travelled by boat to the Greek island of Samos. They spent 40 days sleeping crowded together in a summer tent in the ‘hotspot’ Vathy on the island. Farhad was incredibly sick – vomiting and unable to eat. Due to the dire living conditions his situation worsened.

When the doctors examined him, they said he was dying. It was cold and raining and the ground was wet beneath them in the tent. Ahmed was begging his parents to leave Greece – he couldn’t use the toilets they were so dirty. There was no warm water to wash with. Farhad was suffering in pain and his family had only cold water to bathe him and cold earth to sleep on.

Because Farhad needed urgent medical attention, the family were transferred to a refugee camp on mainland Greece. Farhad was in the isolated camp almost one month still in severe pain.

Once in the mainland camp, Farhad’s pain did not cease. On three occasions an ambulance had to travel the long distance to the family’s camp because Farhad was in such pain. They injected him with pain killers. Eventually, he was taken to hospital, where he stayed for 2 months. Farhad had many tests and an emergency surgery that lasted eleven hours. Zinab was warned that he might not survive this. Zinab and Ahmed slept in the hospital for 4 days because the camp they were supposed to live in was over an hour away.

A few days before Farhad left hospital, Zinab and their child were moved to an apartment in Athens and Farhad was discharged there. He had to go to the hospital every week and was constantly taking medication. The family stayed around six months together in Athens but everyone, including Farhad’s doctors, said that he would have a better chance of survival if he was treated in Germany because they had a better equipped public health system and secured access to the necessary medicines there. Farhad said his Greek doctors treated him very well but he hoped he would have more chance to heal elsewhere and survive his dangerous sickness.

Throughout his time in Greece, Farhad was suffering, he had even thought of committing suicide to end the pain. It was an unbearable decision and a gruelling journey but in January 2019 Farhad travelled alone to Germany as the family had no possibility to go together. He went to Germany to get well and to struggle for his life and for his family.

The family had no idea that they would end up separated for such a long period. When they understood how difficult it was to be together again, they found a lawyer in Athens who is assisting with their case for family reunification through the German embassy. But over one year later, the family remain apart. It is difficult to get essential documents from Syria because of the war and Farhad does not have long to live. 

The family video call almost every day but it is a cruel replacement for life together, especially when little time is left. In his waking hours Ahmed talks of his father – he tells his friends at school he will go soon to be with his father in Germany, he asks his mother when he will be able to kiss his dad again, or walk with him the streets. While asleep, Ahmed dreams of Farhad.

Zinab also cannot bear life without her husband beside her. She fears that nobody is there to do the simple things for him, to talk with him, give him a glass of water.

In the last weeks, Farhad has had multiple operations. Little Ahmed cries for days on end, he says he wants to see his father, he wants his family to be together. Zinab tries to be strong but she also cries often.

“We should be with him now, and he needs us too!”

Zinab

* names changed

Some facts about obstacles that cancer patients in Greece face

For many years, all cancer patients in Greece face huge obstacles to obtain timely access to necessary diagnostics, examinations and treatments. Austerity measures have hit the public health system hard since the start of the debt crisis in Greece in 2009. Cancer patients are among the ones who suffer most.

Funding for state-run hospitals was cut by more than 50% in the last decade. They suffer from severe shortages in everything, from sheets, gauzes and syringes, to doctors and nurses. The patients who can afford it, thus often turn to private health care. The others struggle.

A new study titled “A New National Health System” commissioned by Dianeosis, found out that Greece nowadays spends only 5 percent of its gross domestic product on public healthcare versus the European Union (EU) average of 7 percent.

“The minimum safe limit for every health system, as we have repeatedly stressed, is 6 percent of GDP.” 

Panhellenic Medical Association 2019

The authors of the study ascribe the healthcare crisis in Greece to cuts to funding, under-staffing and mismanagement—the source of which is linked to a decade of austerity measures. As one consequence, the young generation of Greek doctors was forced to emigrate in search for jobs. It is estimated, that more than 15,000 doctors left the country, mainly for the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Sweden.

The difficulties of accessing and using health services in Greece have grown particularly for those who need them most, thus jeopardising the element of equality and social justice. More than that, the study found, that today one in five Greek people are unable to pay for health services when they need it; one in three cancer patients are unable to see their doctor regularly while one in four have difficulties obtaining the medicine they need.

Access to necessary medication is a big problematic with possibly fatal consequences. Cancer drugs are vital, but often inaccessible. In February 2020, the Pharmaceutical Association of Athens denounced the severe lack of specialised medicaments in Greece, amongst others drugs used to control the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients, but also for the chemotherapy itself. The Hellenic Cancer Federation (ELLOK) taking action, appealed on 22.1.2020 to the Ministry of Health to take action in order to normalise the disposal of medicines. Deficiency of basic antineoplastic drugs for cancer patients, according to the Federation, means serious delays and cancellations of chemotherapy that have led patients and doctors to despair. 

Many medicaments reach Greece but are then traded to other countries such as Germany who pay higher prices. Then there are medicines that are essential but so cheap that no company will import them to Greece. These should be covered by emergency imports, but the government agency responsible has no funds to pay for them and has stopped placing orders. At the same time, Greek commercial pharmacies are owed by the government, according to the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association (PFS), so many request payment for medication from patients up front.

“It is one thing to ask a patient to bring his own blanket to the hospital. And quite another to deny him a drug that means the difference between life and death.”

Persefoni Mitta, head of the Association of Cancer Patients in Macedonia and Thrace

During the Covid-19 pandemic things have got even harder. Today, the main problem faced is the long waiting lists for radiotherapy and surgeries. Zoe Grammatoglou, from the Association of Cancer Patients, volunteers, friends, and doctors in Athens, explains:

“In Attika Hospital in Athens the average waiting time for radiotherapy is currently 3-4 months. These delays existed also prior to the Covid-19 pandemic due to lack of staff in the hospitals. The average waiting time for surgeries is currently about one month. All appointments have been further delayed in public hospitals. It is very important to add, that in Greece there are no hospices for the care of persons in the last cancer stadium.”

Zoe Grammatoglou (13.04.2020)

In the case of refugees and migrants, there are even greater obstacles to access free medical care, especially since July 2019 when the right wing New Democracy party was elected. The new government refused to ascribe the Social Insurance Numbers (AMKA) to third country nationals. Medicines sans Frontiers (MSF) estimated in the beginning of this year that 55,000 protection seekers had remained without access to public health care, and specifically denounced the devastating situation for seriously sick children in the ‘hotspot’ of Moria.

“We see many children suffering from medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, who are forced to live in tents, in abysmal, unhygienic conditions, with no access to the specialised medical care and medication they need.”

Dr Hilde Vochten, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece

Only this month (April 2020) is a parallel system called PAAYPA supposed to function in which asylum seekers should be ascribed a temporary Social Insurance Number. It was announced that the system would start from 15 April onward but is not yet working as promised. 

Covid-19 has presented further barriers to healthcare as protection seekers reaching Greece must first register their claim for asylum in order to regularise their stay, and only then will they be eligible for a PAAYPA number. As the Greek Asylum Service has been closed since 13 March and will remain closed until at least 15th May, people seeking protection are unable to claim asylum. Therefore people with chronic and serious diseases may have to wait for months until they can access necessary healthcare. Until then, only emergency care is available.

Furthermore, for as long as protection seekers cannot claim asylum, they cannot access the cash allowance for asylum seekers, which means that they have to pay for all medicines themselves.

Protection seekers arriving from the land border in Evros region face a systematic lack of reception conditions as their asylum claims are usually not registered in the Reception and Identification centre (RIC) of Fylakio. Upon release they reach Thessaloniki or Athens themselves staying most of the times for weeks or months homeless.

At the same time, protection seekers arriving on the Aegean Islands are stuck among thousands of others in the infamous ‘hotspot’ camps of Moria (Lesvos), Vathy (Samos), Vial (Chios), on Leros and Kos living in highly precarious conditions in tents or overcrowded containers. Since recent changes in law, newcomers after March 2020 are regularly detained and face even greater gaps when it comes to accessing the public health care system.

UNHCR Greece highlighted the problems in Moria ‘hotspot’ recently:

“Abdul, 67, sitting on a stool outside his tent. In Afghanistan, Abdul had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Abdul said he had been treated with nothing more than paracetamol since arriving in the camp. Medical workers at Moria and the local hospital are overwhelmed. NGO and volunteer doctors work around the clock. Even so, often they can only attend to the most urgent emergency cases and even serious chronic conditions are left untreated.”

UNHCR, 21 February 2020

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Greece has declared a nationwide lockdown from 23 March 2020. Meanwhile asylum seekers and refugees cannot #stayathome but have to #stayinthecamp. Until today, three refugee camps on mainland Greece have been locked down for a 14-day-quarantine as residents were diagnosed with Covid-19. Human rights activists all over the world demand that we #leavenoonebehind and evacuate Greek refugee camps and release people from detention. Calls have grown loud to relocate unaccompanied minor refugees from Greece and the first 62 have travelled to Luxembourg and Germany.

We must also raise our voices for the families who have been separated between two countries, who are victims of borders and restrictive migration policies such as the ones of Germany, who is systematically rejecting family reunification requests for more than two years.

Severe delays in accessing the urgent examinations and the necessary medicines, in order to provide for the medical diagnostics and adequate therapy/surgery for cancer patients can cost human lives.

STOP CUTS IN PUBLIC HEALTH CARE!

PROVIDE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WITH ALL THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO SAVE LIVES!

ACCESS TO FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!

CLOSE THE CAMPS AND OPEN HOMES!

REUNITE ALL FAMILIES!

“Zuhause ist da, wo deine Familie ist – zusammen!”

Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien

Massoud* (17): “Als ich in Griechenland war, lebten wir im Zelt.”

Eine Mama und ein Papa mit drei kleinen Kindern in Griechenland – ihr 17-jähriger Sohn alleine in Deutschland

Morteza B.* (37) aus Afghanistan floh aus seinem Land, nachdem das Leben seiner Familie bedroht wurde. Er kam mit seiner Frau und ihren vier Kindern Ende Februar 2016 nach Griehcenland, kurz vor der Umsetzung des EU-Türkei-“Deals”. Die Familie war einige Monate lang in einem griechischen Notaufnahmelager bei Athen untergebracht. Weil sie sich dort auch nicht sicher fühlten, versuchten sie ihre Flucht über den Balkan fortzusetzen.

Mehr als zehn Mal wurden sie von Beamten abgefangen und entgegen geltendem Recht nach Griechenland zurückgewiesen. Als sie schließlich serbischen Boden erreichten, wurden sie erneut festgenommen und willkürlich nach Bulgarien zurückgewiesen – obwohl sie noch nie zuvor in diesem Land waren.

Nach einer mehr wöchigen Odyssee wurden sie im Winter 2016 schließlich von Bulgarien nach Griechenland zurückgeschickt. Da sie kein Geld mehr hatten, sahen sie keine andere Möglichkeit, als ihren ältesten Sohn Massoud* (jetzt 17 Jahre alt) alleine nach Deutschland zu schicken. Sie dachten, dass wenigstens Massoud dann in Deutschland in Sicherheit sein würde. Zusammen mit seinem Vater war er derjenige der Familie, die in Afghanistan am meisten bedroht wurden.

Die Familie stellte dann einen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung. Dieser wurde von den griechischen Behörden jedoch trotz wiederholter Versprechungen nie versandt. Stattdessen versuchte Deutschland den minderjährigen Sohn der Familie nach Griechenland abzuschieben, obwohl er schon dort Asyl beantragt hatte und bereits zwei Jahre in Deutschland lebte. Weil die griechischen Behörden seine Rücknahme verweigerten, durfte Massoud sein Asylverfahren in Deutschland fortsetzen. Er erhielt einen einjährigen nationalen humanitären Status (Abschiebungsverbot). Er ist nun legal in Deutschland und geht dort zur Schule. Aber er ist allein.

“Unser Sohn wäre in Afghanistan fast entführt worden. Maskierte Männer warteten vor seiner Schule auf ihn. Nach diesem Terror mussten wir unsere Kinder von der Schule nehmen, um sie in Sicherheit zu wissen. Wir sind nach Griechenland geflohen. Alle zusammen versuchten wir monatelang via Mazedonien und Serbien weiterzukommen. Wir fühlten uns schutzlos unter den Hunderten von uns unbekannten Afghanen um uns herum.

Auf unserem Weg wurden wir mehr als ein Dutzend Mal illegal zurückgewiesen. Wir wurden von Grenzbeamten, Soldaten und der Polizei geschlagen und geschubst; unsere Telefone wurden gestohlen. Wir wurden gezwungen, das eisige Wasser eines Flusses zu durchqueren, und wurden zwei Monate lang unter erbärmlichen Bedingungen in Bulgarien festgehalten, ohne dass wir je aus dem Gefängnis raus konnten and die frische Luft.

Zurück in Griechenland ging die Tortur weiter. Nachdem unser Sohn Deutschland erreicht hatte und in Sicherheit war, informierten wir die griechische Asylbehörde. Als wir ihnen mitteilten, dass wir einen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung stellen wollten, versicherten sie uns, dass sie diesen abschicken würden. Dann begann das Warten. Jedes Mal, wenn wir unsere Papiere erneuerten, sagten sie dasselbe. Von Monat zu Monat, sprengten sie die Grenzen unserer Geduld. Ich werde nie vergessen, als sie uns plötzlich mitteilten: “Nein! Wir werden Ihren Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung nicht abschicken. Ihr Asylverfahren wird in Griechenland stattfinden.” Ich war am Boden zerstört.

Meine Frau und ich versuchen immer noch zu bereifen, dass wir in einem Jahr, also genau fünf Jahre nach unserer Ankunft in Europa, unser Asylinterview in Griechenland haben werden. Dann sind wir schon 3 1/2 Jahre von unserem Sohn getrennt.

Wir leben immer noch in diesem Flüchtlingslager, einem Containerdorf in einem Industriegebiet. Meine Frau leidet seit Jahren an schweren psychischen Problemen, sie ist in Therapie und nimmt Medikamente. Ihre Situation hat sich nach der erlebten Gewalt an den Grenzen Europas verschlechtert. Aber seit unser ältestes Kind so weit von uns entfernt ist, ist ihre Gesundheit komplett zerstört.

Wir haben nur wenige Nachbarn, die schon so lange wie wir mit uns in diesem Lager leben – sie haben auf dem staubigen Boden kleine Gärten angelegt. Aber ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, auch nur eine einzige Pflanze in diese Erde zu setzen. Wir können uns kein “Zuhause” bauen, wenn einer von uns fehlt.

Zuhause ist dort, wo deine Familie ist – zusammen!”

Auf der anderen Seite des Kontinents, hoch im Norden, zählt der 17-jährige Massoud* die Tage, bis er seine Familie wieder sieht.

“Ich vermisse meine Familie. Ich wünschte, sie kämen hierher, um mit mir in einem Haus zu leben. Als ich in Griechenland war, lebten wir in einem Zelt. Es gab keinen Sprachunterricht, keine Schule. Ich hatte große Angst, allein auszugehen. Als meine Eltern beschlossen, dass ich allein nach Deutschland ziehen musste, war ich erst 13 Jahre alt. Sie hatten grosse Angst, mich gehen zu lassen. Und ich hatte Angst, alleine zu reisen. Aber meine Angst vor einer neuen Bedrohung in Griechenland, war noch grösser.

Ich spreche jeden Tag mit meiner Familie am Telefon. Ich möchte ihnen Kraft geben. Das Gute an Deutschland ist, dass ich keine Angst habe, rauszugehen, und dass ich wieder zur Schule gehen kann. Ich möchte Koch werden. Als ich nach Deutschland kam, habe ich kochen gelernt. Ich musste mich selber versorgen. Meine Mutter weint oft, wenn wir telefonieren, aber sie ist froh, dass ich nun kochen kann, denn sie muss sich wenigstens keine Sorgen machen, dass ich hungrig bin. Sie weiß, dass ich meinen Magen jetzt selber mit leckerem Essen füllen kann.”

* Namen geändert

“Home is where your family is – together!”

Massoud* (17): “When I was in Greece, we lived in a tent.”

A mom and a dad with three young kids in Greece – their 17-year-old son alone in Germany

Morteza B.* (37) from Afghanistan escaped his country after the lives of his family were threatened. He arrived to Greece with his wife and four children shortly before the EU-Turkey ‘Deal’ was implemented at the end of February 2016. After a few months feeling unsafe in a Greek emergency refugee camp near Athens, the family tried to continue their flight through the Balkans.

More than ten times they were intercepted and unlawfully pushed back to Greece. Once they finally reached Serbian soil, they were intercepted again and pushed back arbitrarily to Bulgaria, where they had never been before.

In winter 2016, after a week-long odyssey, they were finally returned from Bulgaria to Greece. Left with no money, they saw no option but to send their eldest son Massoud* (now 17 years old) to Germany, where they thought he would be safe, as he had been the one along with his father threatened most in Afghanistan.

Their family reunification application was never sent by Greek authorities despite repeated promises. Instead after two years in Germany and despite having claimed asylum there, Germany attempted to return the families’ minor son back to Greece. When Greek authorities refused to take him back, he was allowed to continue his asylum procedure in Germany. He finally received a one year national humanitarian status (Abschiebungsverbot). He is a legally resident in Germany and goes to school there ever since. But he is alone.

“Our son was almost kidnapped in Afghanistan. Masked men were waiting for him in front of his school. After this terror, we had to take our kids from school to keep them safe. We fled to Greece. We tried for months to move onward all together through Macedonia and Serbia as we felt unprotected among the hundreds of other Afghans around us.

On our way, we got illegally returned more than a dozen times. We were beaten, pushed by border guards, soldiers and police; our phones got stolen. We were forced to cross through the freezing waters of a river and were kept detained in Bulgaria for two months in miserable conditions and without being able to even go out.

Back in Greece, after our son reached safety in Germany and when we informed the Greek Asylum Service that we wanted to apply for family reunification they just told us they would send it but we had to wait. Every time we renewed our papers, they’d say the same pushing our patience beyond its limits. Until that day I will never forget, when they suddenly said: ‘No! We will not send your family reunification request. You will have your asylum procedure in Greece.’ I felt I was braking.

Me and my wife still try to understand, that we will have our asylum interview in Greece in one year, exactly five years after we reached Europe, when we will have been separated far away from our son for 3 1/2 years already.

We still live in this refugee camp, a container village in an industrial area. My wife is suffering from severe psychological problems for years, she has therapy and takes medicines. Her situation worsened after the violence we faced at Europe’s borders, but her health is devastated since our eldest child is so far from us.

We have a few neighbours that have been with us all the time in the camp – they have created little gardens on the dusty soil. But I cannot think of putting even one plant in this earth, as we cannot build anything like ‘home’ when one of us is missing.

Home is where your family is – together!” 

On the other side of the continent, up in the North, the 17-year-old Massoud* is counting the days to see his family again.

“I miss my family. I wish they come here to live with me in a house. When I was in Greece, we lived in a tent. There was no language lessons, no school. I was very scared to go out alone. When my parents decided I had to move to Germany alone, I was only 13. They were scared to let me go and I was scared to travel alone, but I was more scared to stay in Greece.

I speak every day on the phone with my family. I want to give them strength. The good thing about Germany is that I am not afraid to go out and that I can go to school again. In my future I want to become a cook. I learned cooking by myself when I arrived in Germany and I had to take care of myself. My mum often cries when we talk on phone, but she is happy that I learned to cook, because she doesn’t need to worry about me being hungry. She knows I can fill my stomach now with tasty food.”

* names changed

“Ich träume jede Nacht davon, wieder mit ihm zu sein!”

copyright: private

Ein alleinerziehender Vater ist mit drei minderjährigen Kindern in Griechenland – sein 12-jähriger Sohn alleine in Deutschland

Hassan H.* aus Afghanistan kam im August 2018 mit seinen vier Kindern nach Lesbos, Griechenland. Kurz bevor sie von dort aus dem Iran geflohen sind, starb seine Frau. Als der alleinerziehende Vater ein Jahr später versuchte, Griechenland über den Balkan zu verlassen, ging einer seiner Söhne verloren. Er und seine verbleibenden drei Kinder wurden nach Griechenland zurückgeschoben. Später nahm sein Sohn von Deutschland aus Kontakt mit ihm auf, aber dem Vater wurde von den griechischen Behörden mitgeteilt, dass er unter den gegebenen Umständen keine Familienzusammenführung beantragen könne.

“Wir blieben sieben Monate in einem Zelt in Moria. Es gab eine Menge Kämpfe. Ich liess meine Kinder aus Angst nicht nach draussen. Ich wusste nicht, wie ich sie sonst hätte schützen können. Als wir schließlich im Frühjahr 2019 nach Athen verlegt wurden, war ich zunächst sehr glücklich. Vom Hafen aus wurden wir in das Lager Skaramangas gebracht. Dort angekommen sah ich ein riesiges Dorf aus Containern auf einem Pier in der Nähe des Meeres. In der Mitte standen Dutzende von Zelten. Wieder lebten wir in einem Zelt ohne Strom, inmitten der kalten Dunkelheit – wieder in Unsicherheit.

Eines Nachts fing ein Zelt Feuer. Eine Familie war vom Brand betroffen und wäre fast gestorben. Die Geflüchteten im Lager protestierten daraufhin gegen diese Zustände. Einer meiner Söhne wurde bei den Unruhen von der Bereitschaftspolizei geschlagen. Seit diesem Vorfall, haben meine Kinder jede Nacht Alpträume. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt beschloss ich, dass wir versuchen mussten, Griechenland zu verlassen. Wir waren da nicht sicher.

Ich sammelte etwas Geld von Freunden und wir beschlossen, die Landgrenze zu überqueren. Aber eine Tragödie jagte die nächste: Mein 12-jähriger Sohn war auf halbem Weg verloren gegangen. Ich dachte, er sei gestorben oder entführt worden. Wir hingegen wurden verhaftet und nach Griechenland zurückgeschickt. … Es war ein glücklicher Tag, als mein Sohn mich aus Deutschland kontaktierte. Ich hörte seine Stimme und für einen Moment waren alle meine Sorgen verschwunden.

Ich ging zu den Mitarbeiter*innen des Lagers und fragte, wie wir zu meinen Sohn nach Deutschland gelangen könnten. Diese sagten mir aber lediglich, dass ich zu spät sei und wir sowieso in die Kategorie “separated child” gehören (gemeint sind nach gemeinsamer Ankunft in Griechenland, später getrennte Kinder). Aus diesem Grund könnten wir nicht einmal einen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung stellen, weil wir uns “freiwillig” getrennt hätten. Ich verstehe bis heute nicht, was sie meinen. Wir treffen unsere Entscheidungen in einem Ausnahmezustand, während wir versuchen, das Beste für unsere Familie zu tun. Dabei sind es nicht nur diese Entscheidungen, die unsere Situation bestimmen, sondern auch unser Schicksal.

Wie kann es für eine Familie zu spät sein, um zusammen zu sein?

Jetzt ist mein kleiner Junge dort. Und wir sind hier. Wir leben mittlerweile in einem Container. Aber es ist kein Leben, wenn man zuerst seine Frau und die Mutter seiner Kinder und danach ein Kind verliert. Ich träume jede Nacht davon, wieder mit ihm zusammen zu sein. Und ich hoffe, dass ich bis zu dem Tag, an dem wir wieder zusammen an einem besseren Ort sein können, alle meine Kinder beschützen kann.

* Name geändert

“KAMPF FÜR DAS RECHT, ZUSAMMEN ZU SEIN!”

Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung der zwischen Deutschland und Griechenland getrennten Familien

FÜR DAS RECHT ZUSAMMENZUSEIN KÄMPFEN! Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Alle Kinder haben das fundamentale Recht mit ihren Liebsten zusammen zu sein. Trotzdem ist es in Europa mittlerweile weitläufig akzeptiert, dass Familien Geflüchteter aufgrund der restriktiven Gesetzeslage und ihrer noch restriktiveren Auslegung durch die Mitgliedsstaaten getrennt werden und bleiben. „Das Wohl des Kindes […] [sollte] eine vorrangige Erwägung der Mitgliedsstaaten sein” – so steht es in der Dublin III Verordnung, die das primäre rechtliche Instrument ist, welches die Verteilung von Asylbewerber*innen innerhalb der EU regelt. Trotzdem werden tausende geflüchtete Kinder, die Europa erreichen, von ihren Eltern, Geschwistern oder anderen näheren Verwandten wie Tanten, Onkeln und Großeltern, die sich in anderen EU Staaten befinden, ferngehalten.

Im Rahmen des “langen Sommers der Migration” im Jahr 2015, haben tausende Menschen in Griechenland das erste Mal europäischen Boden betreten, bevor sie nach Nordeuropa weitergezogen sind. Viele Familienmitglieder sind später über die gleiche Route nachgekommen – mit dem Ziel, ihre Reise fortzusetzen, um in Deutschland in der Nähe ihrer Liebsten Schutz zu suchen.

Die letzten vier Jahren sind von der plötzlichen Rückkehr von einem kurzen Trend einer europäischen ‘Willkommens-Politik’ zu dem bekannten fatalen Ansatz der geschlossenen Grenzen geprägt. Diese Kehrtwende ist begleitet von einem Aufschwung rechter Regierungen in den EU-Mitgliedstaaten und setzte die grosse Mehrheit der nach 2016 Angekommenen Geflüchteten in Griechenland fest.

In einer Atmosphäre, die von repressiven, anti-migratorischen Politiken in ganz Europa bestimmt wird, kämpfen Graswurzelinitiativen und -Netzwerke auf dem ganzen Kontinent gegen Abschiebungen, illegale Push-Backs, Polizeigewalt, repressive Asylgesetze, verlorene Menschenleben an den Grenzen, die Kriminalisierung von Solidarität und den Anstieg rassistischer Angriffe. Obwohl tausende Familien auseinandergerissen wurden und weiterhin voneinander getrennt gehalten werden, herrscht eine gefährliche Stille über dieser Verletzung fundamentaler Menschenrechte.

In diesem Kontext möchten wir Geschichten von geflüchteten Familien teilen, die getrennt zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland leben müssen. Es ist nicht hinzunehmen, dass das Verpassen von Fristen, die Trennung einer Familie mit dem Wohl der Kinder als Ziel, das Getrenntwerden durch Grenzpolitiken, wachsende Zäune und intensivierte Frontexeinsätze und -kontrollen, valide Gründe sind, um die Trennung von Familien zu rechtfertigen. In den meisten Fällen können geflüchtete Familien die notwendigen Papiere, die ihre Verwandtschaft bestätigen würden, nicht vorweisen. Sie können keine übersetzten Pässe, Familienbücher und Geburtsurkunden vorzeigen – weil sie Krieg und Konflikten entflohen und aus und unter Umständen der Flucht, in welchen Menschen solche Dokumente eben nicht (mehr) besitzen, oder ihre Papiere verloren haben auf dem gefahrenvollen Pfad in die Sicherheit. 

Wir haben uns entschieden, diese Kampagne für die Rechte aller Familien symbolisch am 15.03.2017 zu beginnen, dem Datum der Wiederaufnahme der Dublin-Rückführungen nach Griechenland, die der Empfehlung der Europäischen Kommission folgte, und auf der angeblichen Verbesserung der Bedingungen in Griechenland beruhte. Viele Länder des europäischen Nordens, insbesondere Deutschland, nahmen die Gelegenheit dankbar an, um zu versuchen Menschen zurück nach Griechenland zuschicken. Im Jahr 2017 hat Deutschland 1.887 Überstellungsgesuche an Griechenland gestellt (take-back requests). 2018 waren es 6.827 und im letzten Jahr 9.275 – und das trotz der anhaltenden systemischen Menschenrechtsverletzungen, die von zahlreichen Organisationen dokumentiert wurden und werden.

Schutzsuchende kämpfen an den Außengrenzen und in Griechenland ums Überleben

Heute setzt die rechts-konservative griechische Regierung des vergangenen Sommer gewählten Kyriakos Mitsotakis und seiner Partei, Nea Dimokratia, immer drastischere Methoden ein, um Geflüchtete ohne Rücksicht auf Verluste von den Grenzen fernzuhalten. Die führenden Politiker*innen des Landes bedienen sich nicht nur einer rassistischen anti-migratorischen Rhetorik, sondern propagieren zudem die lächerlichsten Maßnahmen, welche die Grenzen angeblich abriegeln könnten (z.B. schwimmende Zäune).

Die Ankündigung des türkischen Präsidenten Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, die Türkische Grenze nach Europa Ende Februar 2020 zu öffnen, führte zu einem rasanten Anstieg versuchter Grenzübertritte. Der griechischen Regierung schien es in der Folge logisch und gerechtfertigt, mit Gewalt gegen jene Personen vorzugehen, die versuchten, griechisches Territorium zu betreten. Geflüchtete an der Landesgrenze wurden mit Tränengas beschossen, verprügelt, ausgezogen bis auf die Unterwäsche, zurückgedrängt und sogar mit Gummigeschossen beschossen. Auf dem Meer wurden sie attackiert und beschossen, die Motoren der Boote wurden zerstört, Benzin gestohlen und die Fliehenden in Seenot zurückgelassen. In den vergangenen zwei Wochen wurden nachweislich zwei Personen an der Landesgrenze getötet. Ein Kind ist in der Ägäis ertrunken.

Die griechische Regierung empfindet es heute auch legitim, neu ankommende Schutzsuchende nunmehr zu kriminalisieren und droht ihnen mit Haftstrafen von bis zu vier Jahren und Geldstrafen bis zu 10.000 Euro für den bloßen irregulären Grenzübertritt. Gleichzeitig wurde entschieden, dass Menschen in die Türkei zurückgeschickt oder in Herkunftsländer abgeschoben werden können, ohne ein Asylverfahren zuzulassen. Die EU schweigt zu diesen enormen Verletzungen der Grund- und Menschenrechte und bietet der Türkei und Griechenland stattdessen finanzielle Unterstützung an.

Die Ende 2019 neu eingeführten Einwanderungsgesetze hatten bereits zu zahlreichen praktischen Hindernissen bei der Wahrnehmung der Rechte von Schutzsuchenden in Griechenland geführt. Eine steigende Zahl von Asylanträgen wurde willkürlich beendet und auch die Zahlen der Ablehnungsbescheide nimmt unaufhörlich zu. Für Asylbewerber*innen gibt es keine Sozialversicherungsnummer (AMKA) mehr, statt dessen neue Hindernisse bei der Beantragung einer Steuernummer (AFM), keine direkte Arbeitserlaubnis (erst sechs Monate nach der Registrierung), große technische Schwierigkeiten beim Zugang zum Asylverfahren (per Skype), lange Wartezeiten, um Sozialleistungen zu erhalten (Menschen warten mehrere Monate auf ihre ‘Cash-card’), eine Verlängerung der Wartezeit auf Einbürgerung für international Schutzberechtigte (von fünf auf sieben Jahre) und so weiter.

Mitte März 2020 bringt die Bedrohung der durch das Virus Covid-19 ausgelösten Pandemie nicht nur das öffentliche Leben in Griechenland zum Stillstand. Expert*innen warnen vor einem Anstieg der Infektionen im nächsten Monat, welcher die vulnerabelsten Gruppen am heftigsten treffen wird. Griechische Flüchtlingscamps, in welchen hunderte vulnerable Personen in nächster Nähe zusammenleben müssen, ohne dass grundlegende Bedürfnisse erfüllt werden, bergen ein besonders hohes Infektionsrisiko. NGOs rufen zur sofortigen Evakuierung der Camps auf den Inseln auf. Gleichzeitig führen Sicherheitsmaßnahmen für Mitarbeiter*innen zu einer stark eingeschränkten Präsenz der betreibenden Organisationen wie z.B. der Internationalen Organisation für Migration (IOM). Auch Mitarbeiter*innen der NGOs stellen nur noch ein Minimum an Angeboten zur Verfügung. Die nationale Asylbehörde hat ihren öffentlichen Betrieb vorerst eingestellt.

Auf den Ägäis-Inseln bleiben weiter tausende Geflüchtete in Zelten in und um die “Hotspots” eingesperrt. Viele von ihnen haben nicht einmal gesicherten Zugang zu Lebensmitteln, medizinischer Versorgung oder grundlegenden sanitären Einrichtungen. Alle, die nach dem 1. März 2020 angekommen sind, wurden unter unmenschlichen Bedingungen in Außenarealen der Hafenbehörden und auf einem Militärschiff im Hafen von Lesbos über zwei Wochen festgehalten. Nun wurden die Geflüchteten ans Festland gebracht.

Auf den Inseln suchen Schutzsuchende verzweifelt nach rechtlicher Beratung, um Zugang zu Informationen bezüglich ihrer Rechte und dem rechtlichen Ablauf des Asylverfahrens zu erhalten. Die meisten verbleiben ohne jegliche Hilfe und durchlaufen das Asylverfahren unvorbereitet. Das ohnehin schon geschwächte öffentliche Gesundheitssystem bricht zusammen und sowohl medizinische Hilfe als auch der Zugang zur Versorgung mit Medikamenten existiert faktisch nicht mehr. Währenddessen protestieren von Faschist*innen infiltrierte Gruppen von Inselbewohner*innen seit Wochen gegen die Pläne der Regierung, geschlossene Immigrationsgefängnisse neben den bereits jetzt schon bekannten und überfüllten Hotspots auf Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos und Leros zu errichten. Sie haben Geflüchtete, Aktivist*innen und Journalist*innen gleichermaßen attackiert und angegriffen.

Auf dem Festland leben immer mehr Menschen in marginalisierten Lagern, weit entfernt von jeglicher Hilfe und fernab jeglicher Zukunftsperspektiven. Integration unter diesen Umständen ist unmöglich. Die Anzahl der von Obdachlosigkeit betroffenen Personen steigt und mit dem angekündigten Ausschluss der international Schutzberechtigten von staatlich gefördertem Wohnen, werden zum Ende des Monats hunderte weitere auf der Straße landen. Menschen, die über die Landgrenze nach Griechenland gelangen und in die Städte kommen, haben keinen Zugang zum Asylverfahren oder Aufnahmebedingungen. Sie müssen unregistriert in Camps leben und haben monatelang keinen Zugang zu materiellen, sozialen und medizinischen Dienstleistungen, leben in Zelten und überfüllten Gemeinschaftsräumen oder provisorisch in Containern offizieller Bewohner*innen.

Kurz gefasst: Schutzsuchende riskieren ihr Leben um Europäischen Boden zu erreichen und sind nach ihrer Ankunft in Griechenland weiterhin gefährdet.

Seit 2017 verhindert Deutschland aktiv Familienzusammenführungen

Mit der Zunahme der Anträge auf Familienzusammenführung nach der plötzlichen Schließung der “Balkan-Route” und der Implementierung des EU-Türkei-Deals 2016, begannen die Deutschen Behörden eine restriktive Anti-Zusammenführungs-Politik zu verfolgen. Zuerst wurden hunderte bereits akzeptierte Familienzusammenführungen unrechtmäßig verzögert, wodurch Kinder monate- und sogar jahrelang von ihren Familien getrennt blieben. Zum Ende des Jahres 2017 stieg die Anzahl systematischer allgemein formulierter Ablehnungsbescheide zuerst von Deutscher und in der Konsequenz auch von Griechischer Seite, die rein administrative Begründungen verwendeten, um Familien auf unbestimmte Zeit zu trennen. Anstatt das sich die Behörden für die Zusammenführung der geflüchteten Familien einsetzen, liegt die Beweispflicht nun bei den Familien, die belegen sollen weshalb die Zusammenführung zu ihre Wohl sei. Heutzutage ist es eine alltägliche Erfahrungen vieler verzweifelter Kinder, Mütter und Väter, wenn ihnen die griechischen Asylbehörden oder NGOs mitteilen: “Du kannst keinen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung stellen!” oder “Es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass dein Antrag von den Deutschen Behörden abgelehnt wird!”.   

In den Jahren 2017 und 2018 gab es einen starken selbstorganisierten Widerstand geflüchteter Familien gegen die verspäteten Transfers nach Deutschland. Heute wird die extrem restriktive Auslegung der Dublin III Verordnung und des deutschen Einwanderungsgesetzes zum Familiennachzug als gegeben und nicht verhandelbar präsentiert – trotz der inhärenten Ungerechtigkeit. Die Stimmen der geflüchteten Familien verhallen ungehört.

Wir möchten diesen Stimmen eine Plattform geben. Wir stellen uns gegen die EU-Politik der geschlossenen Grenzen abzielen, die Kinder extremer Gewalt aussetzen. Wir fordern, dass Familien wieder vereint werden müssen. Grund- und Menschenrechte müssen über dem Einwanderungs- und Asylgesetz stehen. Das Wohlergehen der Kinder muss geschützt und das Kindeswohl aufrechterhalten werden. Behörden aller EU Mitgliedsstaaten müssen aufhören, das Kindeswohl in Gefahr zu bringen und stattdessen die Dublin III Verordnung einhalten, welche explizit besagt:

“Bei der Anwendung dieser Verordnung sollte das Wohl des Kindes im Einklang mit dem Übereinkommen der Vereinten Nationen über die Rechte des Kindes von 1989 und mit der Charta der Grundrechte der Europäi­schen Union eine vorrangige Erwägung der Mitgliedstaa­ten sein. Bei der Beurteilung des Wohls des Kindes sollten die Mitgliedstaaten insbesondere das Wohlbefinden und die soziale Entwicklung des Minderjährigen, Erwägungen der Sicherheit und der Gefahrenabwehr und den Willen des Minderjährigen unter Berücksichtigung seines Alters und seiner Reife, einschließlich seines Hintergrunds, be­rücksichtigen. Darüber hinaus sollten für unbegleitete Minderjährige aufgrund ihrer besonderen Schutzbedürf­tigkeit spezielle Verfahrensgarantien festgelegt werden.” (Paragraph 13)

„Um die uneingeschränkte Achtung des Grundsatzes der Einheit der Familie und des Wohl des Kindes zu gewähr­leisten, sollte ein zwischen einem Antragsteller und sei­nem Kind, einem seiner Geschwister oder einem Eltern­teil bestehendes Abhängigkeitsverhältnis, das durch Schwangerschaft oder Mutterschaft, durch den Gesund­heitszustand oder hohes Alter des Antragstellers begrün­det ist, als ein verbindliches Zuständigkeitskriterium he­rangezogen werden. Handelt es sich bei dem Antragstel­ler um einen unbegleiteten Minderjährigen, der einen Fa­milienangehörigen oder Verwandten in einem anderen Mitgliedstaat hat, der für ihn sorgen kann, so sollte dieser Umstand ebenfalls als ein verbindliches Zuständigkeits­kriterium gelten.” (Paragraph 16)

Stoppt die Trennung von Familien!

Gleiche Rechte für alle Kinder und Familien!

Kontaktdaten zu den Familien, deren Geschichten innerhalb dieser Kampagne erzählt werden, genauso wie Details zu anderen getrennten Familien, können nach Absprache mit und in Zustimmung der betroffenen Familien geteilt werden, mit Ziel ihnen rechtliche Unterstützung zukommen zu lassen und sie mit ihren Liebsten zu vereinen. Kontaktiert uns über facebook: www.facebook.com/w2eu.gr oder schickt eine E-mail an: contact@w2eu.info

copyright: Salinia Stroux

EXPERTENMEINUNG

Psychosoziale Auswirkungen von nicht erfolgter Familienzusammenführung

Aus psychologischer Sicht ist es in einer durch die Fluchtumstände getrennten Familie nicht zu vertreten, den betroffenen Kindern die Wiederaufnahme der Beziehung und Bindung zu den Eltern und/oder Geschwistern, oder anderen nächsten Bezugspersonen, welche an Stelle der Eltern getreten sind (Großeltern, Tanten/Onkel) zu verwehren, es sei denn deren Verhalten ist an sich als kindeswohlgefährdend anzusehen. 

Das Erleben von Kindern, die gemeinsam mit ihrer Familie eine oft sehr lange dauernde Fluchtgeschichte überstehen, ist geprägt von extremen Formen des Aufeinanderangewiesenseins. Es fehlt der gewohnte soziale Rahmen, der den Kindern ermöglichte, auch außerhalb der Kernfamilie Entwicklungsschritte zu machen. Stattdessen ist die Familie in einer fremden Umgebung auf sich selbst angewiesen. Es werden den Kindern enorme Anpassungsleistungen abverlangt, die sie oft in eine ungesunde Abhängigkeit von ihren Eltern, oder anderen erwachsenen Verwandten, die diese ersetzen, bringen. Auf der anderen Seite leisten die Kinder die Anpassung an die neue Umgebung und Sprache in der Regel schneller als die Erwachsenen, so dass sie aufgrund ihres schnelleren Spracherwerbs oft Übersetzungsleistungen für die Eltern übernehmen müssen. Auch erleben sie ihre erwachsenen Verwandten gegenüber Behörden und PolizistInnen hilflos, gedemütigt und teilweise auch misshandelt. Aus der früheren Kindheit erlebte Sicherheiten gehen so äußerlich wie innerlich verloren. 

Wenn nach solchen Erfahrungen die Kinder dann durch die Fluchtumstände von ihren Eltern und/oder Geschwistern, oder anderen nahen Verwandten getrennt werden, verlassen sie den Familienrahmen unter ohnehin belasteten Umständen. Viele Familien haben neben Krieg und Gewalt bereits als Fluchtgründe massive Ausgrenzung erleben müssen. Durch die Flucht und deren traumatisierende Begleitumstände auch in Griechenland geraten die Familien unter zusätzlichen Druck und verlieren teilweise ihre alten Funktionsweisen, sind auf der anderen Seite aber der überlebensnotwendige Bezugsrahmen. Viele Kinder sind plötzlich ohne ihre gewohnte Familienumgebung, müssen sich ohne ihre Hauptbezugspersonen oft ganz alleine an eine weitere fremde Sprache in einer fremden Kultur und Umgebung anpassen. Die Kinder versuchen, sich nun an dem gegebenen Bezugsrahmen zu orientieren, bleiben aber innerlich und durch täglich mehrfache Telefonate mit der getrennten Ursprungsfamilie sehr eng, aber praktisch nicht lebbar, verbunden. 

Bei von den Familien getrennten Kindern können unabsehbare Auswirkungen auf die psychische Entwicklung entstehen und insbesondere ihre emotionale Stabilität so stark belastet sein, dass durch die faktische Unmöglichkeit, die Herkunftsfamilie wiederzusehen, eine Kindeswohlgefährdung entsteht. Auch Kinder, die von einzelnen zentralen Bezugspersonen getrennt wurden (Mutter, Vater, Bruder, Schwester etc.) brauchen für ihre weitere Entwicklung den Kontakt zu diesen Personen. Wenn die Familie oder einzelne Familienmitglieder durch behördliche Versäumnisse unerreichbar bleiben, ist es hinreichend wahrscheinlich, dass ein Kind immer tiefer in psycho-somatische Symptomatiken abtaucht und diese quasi zu einer eigenen Welt entwickelt. Diese Kinder versuchen so auf dysfunktionale Weise, in Verbindung mit den getrennten Eltern, Geschwistern oder anderen nahen Verwandten zu bleiben, die diese ersetzen, wissend und spürend, dass es ihnen genauso schlecht geht. 0ft werden depressive und andere Symptome zu einem sich selbst bestätigenden Band, was die zerrissene Familie zusammenhalten soll. Wenn Kinder in der Phase des Bindungsaufbaus (bis 3 Jahre) getrennt werden, ist dies besonders wichtig, da sonst eine Störung der Bindungsmöglichkeiten wahrscheinlich wird. 

Durch eine dauerhafte Trennung von der Familie entstehen zunehmende Risiken für die psychische Entwicklung aller betroffenen Kinder und diese gefährden folglich ihr Kindeswohl. 

Dipl. Psychologe und Familientherapeut Reimer Dohrn

“I dream every night of being with him again”

copyright: private

A single father with three minor kids in Greece – his 12-year-old son alone in Germany

Hassan H.* from Afghanistan arrived to Lesvos, Greece with his four children in August 2018. His wife had died in Iran shortly before they escaped from there. When the single father tried to leave Greece through the Balkans a year later, one of his sons got lost and he and his remaining three kids were pushed back to Greece. Later, his son contacted him from Germany, but the father was told by Greek authorities, that he could not apply for family reunification under the given circumstances.

“We stayed seven months in a tent in Moria. There were a lot of fights. I wouldn’t let my kids go out due to fear. I didn’t know how to protect them otherwise. When we were finally transferred to Athens in spring 2019, I was first very happy. From the port we were brought to Skaramangas camp. Upon arrival there I saw a huge village made of containers on a pier near the sea and in the middle, there were dozens of tents. We ended up again living in a tent without electricity in the cold darkness – again unsafe.

One night a tent caught fire and a family got burned. They nearly died. Refugees in the camp then held protests against the conditions. One of my sons got beaten by riot police in the turmoil. My kids were seeing nightmares every night from then on. That was when I decided we should try to leave Greece, because we weren’t safe at last.

I collected some money from friends and we decided to leave from the land border. One tragedy followed the next. My 12-year-old son got lost half way. I thought he had died or been kidnapped. We were arrested and sent back to Greece. … It was a happy day, when my son contacted me from Germany. I heard his voice and all my worries were gone for a moment. I went to the camp employees to ask how we could join my son in Germany. But they said it was too late and we were anyway a “separated child case” and we could not even apply for family reunification because we separated “voluntarily”. I don’t understand what they mean. Our choices are made in a state of emergency while trying to do the best for our family and our situation has not only been a result of our choices but also of our destiny.

How can it be too late for a family to be together?

Now my little boy is there and we are here. We live in a container now, but it is no life if you first lost your wife and the mother of your children, and then you lose a child. I dream every night of being with him again. And I hope until that day, when we can be together again in a better place, I can keep all my kids safe.”

* name changed

FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO BE TOGETHER! A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece

copyright: Salinia Stroux

All children have the fundamental right to be with their loved ones no matter what. Despite this fact it has been broadly accepted in Europe, that refugee families end up separated, due to limitations of laws and an even more restrictive interpretation of these laws by states. The “best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States”, says the Dublin III Regulation, the primary legal tool within the EU to regulate the distribution of asylum seekers. Despite this fact, thousands of refugee children who reach Europe are held far from their parents, siblings or other close relatives such as aunties, uncles or grandparents, residing in other EU countries. 

In the dawn of the “long summer of migration” in 2015, thousands reached Northern Europe entering the EU initially through Greece. Many of their family members arrived later through the same route to Greece actually aiming to continue their journey and find protection near their loved ones in Germany or elsewhere. The following four years are marked by a sudden return from a short trend of a ‘welcome refugees’ EU-politics to the states’ deadly ‘closed gates’ approach, which came into force parallel to a right wing upsurge in the governments of different member states and left the vast majority of newcomers after March 2016 blocked in Greece. 

In an atmosphere ruled by repressive anti-migratory policies all over the EU, grassroots groups and networks across the continent are struggling against deportations, push-backs, police violence, repressive asylum laws, continuing border deaths, the criminalisation of solidarity and an increase in racist attacks. Silence persists despite the fact that thousands of families are torn apart and kept actively separated by national authorities. 

It is in this context that we want to share stories of refugee families split between Greece and Germany. It should not be accepted that failing to meet deadlines, separating with the best interest of children in mind or being separated by border policies, growing fences and intensified Frontex patrols / controls is an acceptable reason to keep families apart. Refugee families can in most cases not submit the necessary documents to prove they are relatives. They cannot supply authorities in many cases with passports, family books, birth certificates – all translated properly, because they escaped war and conflict, they came from situations and escaped under such conditions where most people lack such documentation or lose it on the way to safety. 

We chose to start this campaign on 15th March 2017, the date that marked the resumption of Dublin returns to Greece, following the European Commission’s recommendation that conditions had improved there. North European countries, most notably Germany, were keen to take the opportunity to force people back to Greece. Germany sent 1,887 take-back requests to Greece in 2017, 6,827 in 2018 and 9,275 last year, despite the ongoing systemic human rights violations documented by numerous organisations.

Protection seekers struggle to reach ‘safe’ territory and survive in Greece

Today, the right-wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Nea Dimokratia elected in Greece last summer is imposing more and more drastic measures to keep refugees out no matter what. Ruling politicians have re-introduced an anti-migratory, mostly racist rhetoric, offensively propagating even the most ridiculous measures that would supposedly seal the borders (i.e. floating fences). After a recent upsurge of attempted border crossings caused by Turkish Primeminister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that he would open the Turkish border to Europe at the end of February, authorities’ use of violence to stop people from entering Greek territory has been apparently justified. Refugees were teargassed, beaten, stripped naked, pushed-back and even shot with rubber-bullets at the land border. They were attacked and shot in the sea, their engines were broken and petrol stolen and they were left adrift in distress. In these two weeks, two persons were documented dead at the land border and one child drowned in the Aegean Sea. Greek officials have found it legitimate, to start criminalising newcomers in search of protection with prison sentences reaching four years and fines of up to 10,000 Euros for mere ‘irregular entry’. It has also been agreed that people will be returned swiftly back to Turkey or deported to their homelands without even being able to claim asylum. EU authorities have been silent on these breaches of fundamental human rights, instead offering Turkey and Greece more money.

New immigration laws introduced at the end of 2019 already had created numerous practical obstacles to protection seekers in Greece accessing their rights, with an increasing number of asylum claims being ended for arbitrary reasons and the number of rejections to asylum claims growing. No more social insurance number for asylum seekers (AMKA), new obstacles to get a tax number (AFM), no more direct right to enter the job market (only after six months from registration), big technical difficulties to access the asylum procedure through Skype, long waiting periods to receive social benefits for asylum seekers (people waiting for the cash-card for many months), increased periods to naturalize for beneficiaries of international protection (from five to seven years) and so on.

In mid-March 2020, the threat of the Corona virus pandemic has not only bought public life in Greece to a halt, but experts warn that an upsurge in infections is still to come next month and will hit the most vulnerable worst. Greek refugee camps where hundreds of vulnerable persons are living close to each other, usually without their basic needs being met are spaces of high risk of infection. NGOs have called for the immediate evacuation of the camps on the islands. At the same time, emergency measures for employees have limited the presence of site managing organisations such as IOM and NGO employees offering essential services to a minimum level. The Asylum Service has temporary halted its services to the public nationwide.  

On the Aegean Islands, thousands of refugees remain trapped in tents in and around the ‘hotspots’, many of which do not even have access to food, medical aid or basic sanitary infrastructure. Those arriving after March 1sthave been held in dire conditions in outside areas of ports and a navy ship in Lesvos Island for many days. After two weeks trapped on the warship they have been transferred to the mainland. On the islands, protection seekers are searching desperately for legal aid, to access information on their rights and procedures. Most remain without any help and go through the asylum process unprepared. The already burdened public health care system is breaking down and medical aid as well as access to medication is in fact not existent. In the meanwhile, locals infiltrated by fascists are protesting since weeks against the government’s plans to build closed immigration prisons next to the already infamous and overcrowded ‘hotspots’ on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros islands. They have attacked refugees, aid workers and journalists alike. 

On the mainland, more and more people live in marginalised camps far from any possibility to find help, to integrate or to identify any future prospects for themselves. The number of people homeless is growing and with the announced exclusion of beneficiaries of international protection from state housing, hundreds more will be on the streets by the end of this month. People arriving from the land border to the cities do not have access to the asylum procedure. They cannot access reception conditions and have to stay unregistered inside camps without any social welfare and services for months while living in tents, overcrowded common spaces or other residents’ prefabs. 

In short, protection seekers risk their lives to reach European soil and continue to be at risk even upon arrival to Greece.

Germany actively hinders families from being reunited since 2017

With the surge of family reunification applications after the sudden closure of the ‘Balkan Corridor’ and the implementation of the EU-Turkey ‘Deal’, the German authorities started developing a harsh anti-reunification policy. First, hundreds of family reunification cases which had already been accepted were unlawfully delayed, keeping children for months and even years apart from their families. By the end of 2017, systematic and generalised rejections of such applications increased suddenly first from the German side and as a consequence also from the Greek side, using administrative grounds to keep refugee families apart for indefinite periods. Instead of authorities deciding in favour of refugee families being united, the families now have the burden to prove why it is best for them to be together. Today, it is a common story of desperate children, mothers and fathers, that they are told by the Greek Asylum Service and NGOs: ‘You cannot apply for family reunification!’ or ‘It is likely that your application will be rejected by the German authorities!’ 

Before, there was strong self-organised resistance from refugee families against the delays of transfers to Germany throughout 2017 / 2018. Nowadays, the extremely harsh interpretation of the Dublin III Regulation and German immigration law when it comes to family reunion, is being presented as a given fact and seems non-negotiable, despite the inherent injustice. Refugee families’ voices have remained widely unheard.

We want to platform these voices. We stand against EU-policies that focus on closing borders and subjecting children to extreme violence, we demand families must be reunited. Basic rights are superior to immigration and asylum law. The wellbeing of children has to be protected and their best interest must be upheld. Authorities of all EU member states must stop putting children’s welfare in danger and instead comply with the Dublin III Regulation, which explicitly states:

„(T)he best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States when applying this Regulation. In assessing the best interests of the child, Member States should, in particular, take due account of the minor’s well-being and social development, safety and security considerations and the views of the minor in accordance with his or her age and maturity, including his or her background. In addition, specific procedural guarantees for unaccompanied minors should be laid down on account of their particular vulnerability.“ (paragraph 13)

„In order to ensure full respect for the principle of family unity and for the best interests of the child, the existence of a relationship of dependency between an applicant and his or her child, sibling or parent on account of the applicant’s pregnancy or maternity, state of health or old age, should become a binding responsibility criterion. When the applicant is an unaccompanied minor, the presence of a family member or relative on the territory of another Member State who can take care of him or her should also become a binding responsi­bility criterion.“ (paragraph 16)

End the separation of families!

Equal rights for all children and families!

Contact details for the families whose stories are included in this campaign as well as other separated families can be shared with the consent of the families in order to support legal efforts to reunite them with their loved ones. Contact us on facebook: www.facebook.com/w2eu.gr or email to: contact@w2eu.info

copyright: Salinia Stroux

EXPERT OPINION

Psychosocial repercussions of the authorities’ practice of not reuniting families 

From a psychological point of view, it is unjustifiable in a family separated by the circumstances of the flight, to deny the affected children to re-establish a relationship and bond with the parents and / or siblings, or other closest caregivers, who have taken the place of the parents (grandparents, aunts / Uncle), unless their behaviour is per se endangering the child’s well-being (‘Kindeswohlgefährdung’).

The experience of children who, together with their family, survive an often very long flight, is characterized by extreme forms of relying on one another. The habitual social framework is missing, which was enabling the children to take development steps outside of the core family. Instead, the family is dependent on itself in an unknown environment. The children are required to perform enormous adaption, which often puts them an unhealthy dependency from their parents or other adult relatives who replace them. On the other hand, children generally adapt to new environments and languages faster than adults, so that because of their faster language acquisition, they often have to carry out translations for their parents. They also experience their adult relatives helpless, humiliated and sometimes ill-treated by the authorities and police officers. Experiences of safety from earlier childhood are lost both externally and internally.

If, after such experiences, the children are separated from their parents and / or siblings or other close relatives, by the circumstances of the flight, they leave the family framework under circumstances that are already stressful. In addition to war and violence as reason for fleeing, many families have already experienced massive exclusion. As a result of the flight and its traumatizing circumstances – also in Greece, the families come under additional pressure and sometimes lose their old functions. On the other hand, they are the reference framework that is necessary for survival. Many children find themselves suddenly without their habitual family environment and often have to adapt to another foreign language in a foreign culture and environment without their main caregivers. The children are now trying to orient themselves on the given reference frame of the current place of residence, but remain very closely connected internally and through multiple phone calls every day to the separated family of origin – a family framework which is not practically liveable.

Children separated from families can have unforeseeable effects on their psychological development. In particular, their emotional stability can be so severely affected that the factual impossibility of seeing the family of origin again endangers the child’s well-being. Also, children who have been separated from individual main caregivers (mother, father, brother, sister, etc.) need contact with these people for their further development. If the family or individual family members remain unreachable due to authorities’ omissions, it is sufficiently likely that a child will dive successively deeper into psycho-somatic symptoms and develop them into a (virtual) world of their own. These children in a dysfunctional way, try to stay in touch with the separated parents, siblings or other close relatives who are replacing them, knowing and feeling that they are in a likewise bad psychological condition. Depression and other symptoms often become a self-affirming bond, which aims to keep the torn family together. This is particularly important if children are separated in the main phase bonding (up to the age of 3 years), as otherwise the bonding possibilities are likely to be disrupted.

A permanent separation from the family creates increasing risks for the psychological development of all affected children and consequently endangers their best interests.

Dipl. Psychologist and Family Therapist Reimer Dohrn

At the Greek-Turkish border, politicians play with people’s lives

People trying to enter Europe in search of protection face brutal repression in the Aegean region. Although this is not new, we currently see an escalation of violence as Turkey and Greece play a dangerous game with people’s lives. The survival instinct and hope of many for a better future is exploited and manipulated for cynical political stunts. Greece has now declared a state of emergency and to remove people’s right to claim asylum.

On the Greek side the situation is devastating, every day: Overcrowded detention centres and camps where thousands are forced to survive the inhuman conditions. Riot police forces secretly transferred to the Greek islands to crack down on local inhabitants with tear gas and clubs. Riot police forces along with soldiers and anti-terror squads firing tear gas and water cannons at refugees who attempt to enter through the land border. Those who do succeed in reaching Greece face imprisonment merely for crossing the border. Boats attacked by masked men in the Aegean Sea and prevented from disembarking by fascists at Greek harbours. 

In Turkey, on the other side of the border, the situation is equally cruel: As a response to the Turkish fatalities in Idlib, President Recep Erdoğan announces the ‘opening’ of borders and thousands of people follow his call and move toward Greece, in the hope of finally finding safety. They enter white busses, reportedly provided by the Turkish government, but end up trapped in the border-zone between Turkey and Greece stopped by armed forces and army vehicles. 

Despite this current escalation, it is clear that push-backs and violent excesses along the border are daily phenomena, not exceptions. But commonly, they target smaller groups, not such a large crowd. Usually, civil society is not able to see how these human rights violations unfold, how police and army officials stand in people’s paths, preventing them from stepping on EU soil and exercising their right to ask for asylum. 

Europe enacts a ‘closed door’ policy, enforced by the right-wing government in Greece which sends riot police and special forces to deter people escaping war, conflict, and hunger, and aims to temporarily suspend their right to claim asylum and immediately deport them to countries of origin. We have already seen images of NATO war ships patrolling the Aegean Sea along with border guards from all over Europe in Frontex missions. 

We will not accept this European war against people who seek protection! We will not remain silent, when repressive anti-migration policies give space to fascism!

We have seen people being violently pushed back to Turkey where they are detained or even deported from to places where they face war and persecution. We have seen people drowning in the Aegean Sea or Maritsa river. We have seen dehydrated, frozen, and unrecognizable bodies of mothers, fathers, children. We have seen also people dying in Europe’s ‘hotspot’ camps due to inhumane conditions – babies dying of dehydration, lack of adequate medical aid and desperation leading to people committing suicide. 

But we have also seen people ‘on the move’ claiming their rights and standing in solidarity together with locals against these repressive policies. We have heard their loud voices shouting united for freedom. We have seen people marching across borders against all odds and against the violent European border regime. 

We will stand united against this cruelty! We will raise our voices to tell the stories that are not told, show the images that are hidden away from the world! We will not stop denouncing the violent excesses at Europe’s borders and we will not stop struggling for another world of freedom of movement! 

Equal rights for all! No one is illegal!

Stop the border deaths! Stop racist policies and fascist violence!

Close detention centres, hotspots and other camps and open homes!

No borders! 

w2eu – infomobile Greece and WatchTheMedAlarm Phone 

Fire in protest at horrific conditions in Amygdaleza pre-removal immigration prison, Athens Greece – footage and words from those detained inside

I am a young man from Syria, detained in Greece. Amygdaleza.  I escaped from the war in my country in order to obtain safety, but I was detained in Greece for a long time. I no longer feel safe, reassured and stable that I was looking for here in the camp. There is nothing and they do not offer us any help. We hope for your help. There is someone who tried to commit suicide because of the difficulties he is facing here.

How I wished and how much I looked. I left my homeland and looked for safety. I looked for freedom. I looked for an alternative homeland. I needed help, but no one gave me a hand. No one comforted me. I dreamed a lot of things and big dreams, but dreams were awake, and now I have fallen again.  Whoever says to me will realize your dreams that I had built when I arrived in Greece I have said this is the beginning of my career and from here I will fulfill my dreams but unfortunately it was not what I expected but the worst was my dreams were broken in front of me I no longer want to achieve those dreams but rather I want to live in peace and security  And stability, I just hope to be a cat that lives in the house with its owners or a dog that lives  I have a private house and its owner takes it on a short walk or I am a rose that grows on the balcony of a house and the owner of the rose takes care of it every day, but I found myself flying in a cage and could not fly as I had dreamed, it was only my fault that I was born in my country where the war broke out and because I no longer  I can dream, I can no longer think. The sun rises every day to increase my suffering again and every night I say Is this what I was looking for Is this life that I had hoped for but I could not answer my question I started dying from all empty promises I can no longer search for myself I wonder  Every day, why does this happen to me? I did nothing but dreams, screaming loudly, I did nothing  Why am I here but nobody hears my screams searched among my papers my numbers books but I did not find myself can I dream again or that dreams not present in the human language dictionary searched and did not find myself

I will write but I do not know what to write. Should I write about the war in my country, or the war in my country? I do not know about it except the smell of blood, the screaming of children, the tears of women, the sadness of youth, the loss of young dreams, or write about the war in me, but I will not be able to describe that war and that outrage, or write  What I feel, but I no longer feel anything, I no longer feel for myself, I no longer feel the spirit that inhabits my body, I no longer find my thinking, I can no longer think of things that I was thinking about before. Has the stage of thinking ended for me or am I thinking that has become restricted? I did not know about  What do I write? Do I write about the freedom I searched for and did not find it or write about the vine  My time is no longer human dignity or write about humanity that I did not find her presence Soh with animals I can not find what you should write about Soh meanings experienced by humans do not know what to write and did not promise I want to write something will just read what they write.

What happened?

What happened Why am I here Why am I in this place that looks like a swamp Why did I become alone in this place What led me here I began to feel tired and I am trying to leave this place I no longer have even a glimmer of hope Will my life end here I no longer dream about a light I have started my life  By fading before my eyes, I no longer see anything but sadness. I see with everyone’s eyes. There is only a question, why are you here. I did not realize that I would be every animal placed inside a cage. Unfortunately, the animal has some rights until it has a name, but I only became a number. I am called through that number.  What happens to human beings as if they do not see it and avoid hearing our screams? Is this it for man?  Why is this life? I don’t think that’s what I was looking for. What happened? Why am I here?

What happened?

Deadly cold

  It was raining and strong winds I tried hard to get to my brother’s bedroom. The suffering of reaching it was dark. The darkness prevailed over the atmosphere of the place, and the land of each swamp had a lot of wetness on the road. I was falling from that to another that I got up and completed my career. I reached my brother’s fortune. It was lightening quickly and quickly closed.  The door was few, the door was not closed with provisions that were as if all kinds of rain and wind were permitted to enter a worn ship taken by the waves. My worn-out coat was removed from me, my worn out coat and I looked at my brother, he was trembling with the freezing cold.  Know how I can comfort myself  My brother just stayed silent. He wrapped himself in a blanket that did not protect him from anything from the cold. My brother embraced me in my arms. I was warming him, even a little. I wanted to burn myself to warm my brother. My tears were falling on my cheeks from pain.  I want something, just save my brother.

drinking water supply in Amygdaleza
food in Amygdaleza
18 people sharing a room in Amygdaleza

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 13)

Author: A migratory girl

Note: This photo is not showing the persons described below in the letter.

I am the mother of two sick babies

Every mother raises up her baby being proud of it from the first day. When she kisses her baby, her baby kisses her back, and this is the absolute happiness for her. When the child grows, she is watching how it plays with others. She watches it grow and develop. These are the joys of a mother. 

I have raised my two children under the hardest conditions of life. I spent everyday praying for them. But while the body of my four year old girl grew, her brain did not follow along. And the same happened to my boy.

I love my children. But society humiliated us for them being different. I will never forget that everybody expected my husband to get married again, because I gave birth to mentally disabled babies.

I didn’t even know that I was getting married. I was so small, getting married was for me was like playing with my dolls, and it was the same for all other girls of my very young age.

When I started to learn about life as a couple, I realised that I was pregnant and when I hugged my Mariam* (names changed) for the first time, I became also aware of people’s talk – mostly the nearest persons around me. They called my baby “handicapped”, “abnormal”, and those words aggrieved me.

To find medical help for the growth problems of our child and escape their stigmatisation and the painful talks around our family we decided to escape, first to Iran and after to Turkey.

We tried to find appropriate treatment for our daughter for four years. For the first three years, no one could tell us the reason of her illness. Finally, they found out, that she had a brain damage.

My Mariam … she is full of emotions, full of love and affection, full of innocence. Her world is simple, but pure. Her view on life is different. Even when humiliating hands rest on her shoulders, she feels that they are innocent, hands full of sympathy.

When I see that she goes near flowers, I become happy that maybe she is getting pleasure from her environment, but then she becomes aggressive to them. Observing her in such scenes feels like thorns piercing my eyes.

Every mother wishes to see her baby crawl, but I couldn’t see it, since she was like a dead body in a corner until she became two years old. Every mother wishes to hold her baby’s hand and teach her how to walk, but I touched her weak joints and she whined and cried in pain.

Hey mothers on this earth! Hey you who have children!

I swear that I raised this girl 9 months in my belly. I swear that I desired death while giving birth. I passed a long period after her birth, eating dry bread with water, praying that she becomes better, that she becomes a happiness for us and happy herself.

I have lived with such pain. The Turkish doctors told us that there was no hope to treat Mariam.

And, then, in Turkey, another seed was planted and started growing. I have grown Amir* full of hope. Although looking at Mariam made me cry every day, my husband, cleared away my tears, put his hand on my belly and gave me hope. How many nights didn’t I cry for the health for my kids… but in this inhumane world, my souls screams haven’t been heard.

This mother, after 9 months of carrying her baby and 6 days of labor pains, was told once again the same news: She is having an unhealthy baby.

I passed two years full of hope, telling myself that maybe it was not true, that things may change. The doctors in Turkey told us that he had the same problem as Mariam. His brain will not grow and the muscles of his body will not work well. However, there was a treatment for him, especially because he was smaller that Mariam, but that treatment was not possible in Turkey. For that we needed to move on to a European country.

We had been living as refugees in Turkey for four years. We were beggars on everybody’s door. Every day we visited the doctors. However, we didn’t know their language, and we didn’t have an interpreter. We wandered for hours and days to find the hospitals as we didn’t know the addresses, only to understand, in the end, that we were in Turkey for nothing. We saw that all doors were closed to us. So we gathered everything, held our children’s hands and started our migration towards Europe.

Now we ask ourselves: Is this really Europe? Is this the continent of hope? Where is that bright light that we came here to find for our children?

No! Here our heart’s light didn’t turn on. Europe turned our hopes off and we are trapped in darkness.

For four months now every day we go to the doctors in Mytilene. It seems that our babies are pictures, that can be diagnosed by a quick look. Without having carried out any test, they tell us that our babies don‘t have any problems. It is as if you go to the doctor and tell him that you have a headache and the doctor tells you, “where is your pain, I cannot see it”.

No one answers our questions. We are like ping pong balls for them. They throw us from one hospital to another for nothing.

If you have parents, if you are a father or mother, if you love someone around you, you will understand us. You will understand how hard it is to see a seed of your body, growing to become a human that is just alive but doesn’t live. Every day looking at our children’s situation we wish to die.

We didn’t come here for money or luxuries but for the doctors. For us just having a nest to protect us from the cold and to live with our healthy children would be enough.

In search of just a nest…

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to my friend who shared her story with me. I wish she will find what she is seeking for!

STOP WAR ON MIGRANTS

Clandestina participates in the ‘Stop War On Migrants’ campaign. The campaign was initiated on October 2019, after the announcement of the new anti-immigration policy in Greece.

This is the text that presented the new governmental policy on migration and called for launching the campaign (Oct. 2019): StopWar_leaflet_EN

This is a presentation of the assembly of the “Stop War On Migrants” campaign in English, French, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu: Who_we_are_5_languages

This is the facebook page of the “Stop War On Migrants” campaign:

https://www.facebook.com/StopWarOnMigrants/

4_Posters.indd

Letter to the World from Moria (No 12)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Hinrich Schultze

I am mother Earth

I have existed for billions of years. Every century I raised new generations, but I have never been at the same time as proud of myself as I am today and as sad and disappointed as I am today.

Today, I stand tip-top on some incredible advances and discoveries achieved in this world. Yet, it looks like my residents are returning back to old false thoughts, thoughts thousands years old. Thoughts of egoism, thoughts of greed, thoughts that make you fight between each other, that made you built borders in order not to share between your kind or other creatures.

I am mother of you all. I am equally belonging to all people. You can all live on me. So what are these borders for that you created? Why don’t you open your doors to each other? Why don’t you get rid of racism and come together sitting on one table?

We are a family. Didn’t you realise? Is it possible for one child to ask another child to give him back his mother? Is she mother to just one child? Which mother can be happy to see one of her kids happy and wealthy and another poor and miserable? Which family can draw borders between its members? You are all earths people, how can one be more and another less?

You want to conquer other people, other countries, other planets. Have you pleased me, to now think that you will please other planets? Did you look after me so now you think that you can look after other planets?

Today, more than any times in the past, I need protection from you people and people need protection from each other. Instead of looking after me, you want to conquer me, you think that I belong to some few of you. You don’t want to care and to share…

Don’t you need me all in order to survive? I am soil and water for you, and if the goal is to live and not to turn others into slaves, get a piece of land for yourself and give a glas of water to others.

Every day, with your growing greed I fall into more trouble and you loose yourselves. Your attempt to conquer me burns forests into ashes, forests that have grown over thousands of years nurturing us with oxygen. Seas turn red with human blood, and more lands with their thousand years old history, turn into dry sand.

Your pressure on me is ever growing. With every century of your “progress”, I get closer to the end of my life. You want to exploit me, but don’t you realize that you deplete me every day, that you end my days and yours.

Why don’t you content with what you already have? Why don’t you protect the treasures in your hands? Your life would be terribly short if I belonged to one man only, if you were alone. If you continue the same way, you won’t be able to have me for more than 100 years more. I will die. You will die.

So let the people see the grasses also in future, let them touch the lawns, let them smell fresh air, let them climb the mountains and swim in the seas. Don’t force the future generations to spend all their days and lives with masks! My ozone layer is being destroyed. I cannot escape harmful radiations anymore, all because of you! Every day by making more nuclear power, by building more factories, I come closer to the end of my life.

Your egoism and greed is my death. But my death will be your destruction. It will affect all of you. Every day more species of herbs, plants and animals become extinct. More humans lose their lives fighting in front of the borders of your greed and pride.

People were all born with many hopes, but not feeling the joy of life, they lost everything. When I see that in one part of me, people die from hunger and children are threatened by malnutrition, and in another part of me, people go under surgery‘s blades to lose weight, I feel anger.

I am sorry for the countries where people live below the poverty line. I should also say: I am sorry for the residents, of those parts of a country, living under the poverty line, while just next to them others live on top of joviality. I feel pain for those who work in their own territories for other people and give their own natural wealth away for a few cents.

It pains me to think that, millions of years from now, the inhabitants of other planets would call Earth “the planet of the greedy species”, and amazed from the horror, they will look at the destruction caused by atomic wars and missile weapons.

You have closed the borders, when in one of my hemispheres population density is low, while in my other hemisphere it is very high. The rich eat more, the poor face hunger more.

Are not the rich countries of the world responsible for that? The nations, the presidents, the politicians, the businessmen? Have they not taken away all natural resources? Should they not feel shame? They don’t. Instead the rulers, the real thieves, just give “development aid” and present themselves as benefactors to our world. They interfere in politics of other countries, they throw down governments and start wars to “save” others.

In a period when Europe has decreasing birthrates and schools and universities close down because of a lack of students, in Asia and Africa and in most other continents, thousands of schools are destroyed under bombs and students are deprived of education.

In an era when generations should deliberate together to get to know and understand each other, people have raised borders higher and thousands die as a result, including children, pregnant women, old men.

One day from the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea terrible screams will rise — screams to break down the borders. I have never raised borders to hold someone out. Nature has always stretched a friendly hand to all – so hold it tight.

In an era when you still want to visit Mars, I have never constructed a border. You were created as free people and freedom is what you deserve. I need life not borders. No one needs borders.

Come together to find new ways to protect life and dignity. I am getting old and I cannot tolerate fumes of chemical factories, atomic power’s gases, missiles, atomic bombs.

Let one day of life be a gift for yourself and give one day also for all the others.

I turned centuries around the sun to give your life, but, today, when I need you to listen to me, don’t turn your back on me. Earth don’t want no borders. Earth want people united.

One can wander to the East or the West, to the North or the South, but where home is, it is the best.

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (Nr. 11)

Author: A migratory girl

Life of a Transgender

I am in Moria Camp.

Being a transgender means not to be of female or male sex, neither man nor woman – but of transgender sex. In a society like Afghanistan, being a transgender person is like being an extra-terrestrial, landing on earth from outer space. In Afghanistan people think of sex binary: only female and male are considered as “normal” genders.

In Afghanistan I used false names. I am Mina. This name gives an understanding that I am a girl. Yet, every day, during my whole being, my soul screams: “I am not a girl! Don’t cover your self with these clothes.”

I was born, in 1992, in Mazaresharef, the western province of Afghanistan. Being a girl in such a society carries guilt. Being a transgender born as a girl carries double guilt. So when I realised that I was not really a girl, my life became a nightmare. I felt myself separate from everyone, not belonging to any of the dominant sexes. Although I had a female body, I wanted to be with boys, behave like a boy. Playing with them, learning with them, speaking with them was pleasant for me.

While I was little, my family allowed me to do more or less what I wanted. But as soon as my female body developed, they didn’t allow me to be what I wanted to be, as I wanted to be. They were always thinking about their reputation and honour and not about what I wanted. When I became 18, I felt like a prisoner in the jail of my female body and I couldn’t tolerate anymore wearing girl’s clothes. So, I decided to take off my hijab and be what I wanted to be.

I loved one of my classmates and I was all the time with her. She didn’t know everything about me. She just knew my deep feelings for her and she thought that I was like all girls. Sometimes, she felt uncertain and would ask if I was ok. Soon, I decided to speak with her and with my family.

First I told her all my feelings, that I really loved her and wanted to be with her all my life. She was shocked, but she accepted me and wanted me to be what I wanted to be, not what others wanted me to be.

When I then spoke with my family, they told me that they would kill me if I did not do what they wanted. They also told me that there was a suitor asking for me and that he and his family were coming the next day to visit to ask for my hand. I should just dress like a lady and that was it!

I thought ok, I will do what they ask me to do. I will get married, but I won’t have any relation with him. Relations need feelings and I had no such feelings for him or any men. I thought, I will divorce him after two months, I promise!

I did the opposite. I went to a barber and cut off my hair like a boy. Then I wore a t-shirt with a pair of jeans and went home.  

My older sister was shocked to see me like that and told me to change my clothes immediately and wear a scarf. “Otherwise”, she told me, “our father will kill you”.

I put a scarf over my short brown hair and wore a skirt over my jeans.

The guests came and I got married, but I had no relation with him. We were together for two months and then I divorced.

When my father learned that I divorced, he beat me up. My eyes became black and purple.

“What is this,” he shouted. “Do you want me to kill you? What did I do wrong to you that you behave like this? What did you want, that I didn’t give you”, he shouted and continued to beat me.

“You didn’t give me my right,” I answered. “Did you ever ask me what I wanted? Did you ever ask how I felt? Did you ask anytime how I wanted to be? You know nothing about me,” I went on. “You were always thinking about your reputation and honour, not about your child.”

And as I was speaking my voice stopped. I was sobbing. “Your crying won’t change anything,” he cried, “I will decide about you.” He threw me out of the house and that was the last time I saw him.

It’s about six years that I have not had a single contact with my family.

My mother died some years ago and my two sisters got married. I went to them.

I couldn’t stay a lot with my sister. Her husband, my brother in law, was not happy with me and his behaviour towards me became worse and worse. I understood that I could not stay there any longer.

One day, my bother in law called me in the room and told me: “We are taking a decision about you. As you know, our financial situation is not good and we cannot spend money for you. We will tell you our decision tomorrow.”

I felt totally stressed out. I didn’t know what he was going to decide and how it was going to be. That night was like a nightmare for me. I couldn’t sleep. Yet, I was pleased with my new style. I was day-dreaming all night long in front of the mirror, brushing my short hair and changing my parting hair line.

The next day, the sun was shining and I was still day-dreaming. I wanted to become a lawyer to protect the rights of people, make the world a just world. But they burned my dreams, they burned my child and my adult dreams. They burned my hopes.

In the morning my brother in law asked me: “Will you change yourself?”

“No”, I replied.

“Won’t you change your decision?”

“No!!!”, I insisted. “I know who to be and how to be. Everyone has the right to chose.”

“We are not in Europe, never forget it”, he shouted. “I live in society, with many other people. Every day I hear them speak about you. Their words bother me. I don’t have any problem with you working in the municipality, or you going to university, but I cannot tolerate that people speak about you and us.”

I was living with my sister for 3,5 years. But, after this conversation with my brother in law, I decided to leave them and not to make them uncomfortable anymore.

I was sad, hopeless, upset and disturbed. I realized that I was alone. Alone in all respects. Totally alone in the whole world. I didn’t know what to do and where to go. I cried, and cried. I cried continuously.

I went to my classmate who had promised to give me money to escape from Afghanistan and become free — free to spin in the air for all to see me. No need to hide anymore.

I found a family that also wanted to go Germany. So I took the money from my classmate and I went with them to Farah, then to Nemroz, the nearest city to Pakistan’s border. Then we went to Pakistan, to a city of thieves, war and deception. When we were there, I didn’t know that I should dress like a girl and wear a hijab. I thought it would be more tolerant and open-minded than Mazar-e-Sharif. But when we arrived at Nemroz, I understood that I should cover all my body. Even then, however, everyone was looking at us as if we “women” were guilty of a crime. Then I understood that they were looking at us, because our men wore t-shirts and trousers, clothes very different from theirs, since they were all wearing long dresses and Tomban (traditional trousers). So our men changed their style and borrowed a Pirahsn and Tomban for themselves.

We were eight nights at the Pakistan border and this was the most difficult part of our journey. One night three men wanted to invader our tent while we were sleeping, but fortunately our men stopped them and had a fight with them. They left, but, after that, we couldn’t sleep all night.

We reached Iran, a country of racism and hatred, between Shiites and Sunnis, Iranians and Afghans. When we were there, we spent three days in the mountains. The weather was very cold, but no one of the smugglers helped the families that had children. I felt very sorry for the family of that baby who fell from the mountain and died.

Finally we arrived to Turkey.

The UNHCR helped me a lot in every respect. When they learned that I wanted to change my gender, they tried to collect money for the operation. Unfortunately there was no doctor to perform such an operation. They suggested that, I should go to Europe.

I spent two and half years in Turkey. After six months, I got a money card, and every month, I took 7 hundred and fifty Lire from PTT. But as I had to pay for rent, water, gas and electricity that money wasn’t enough for me. So I was peddling everyday at the corners of the streets. I do the same here too, just to earn 5€.

It’s so hard when somebody asks me, how many siblings I have. How can I say 6, when I have not been with them for so long? I share nothing with them.

Isn’t it wrong?

It’s very hard when somebody is looking at me strangely and I sense that he or she wants to ask me who and what I am.

I cannot say anything. I just hide myself, hide my gender, because of my feelings and I hide my feelings, because of others.

I passed the borders not to be hidden!

I risked my life not to be hidden!

I lost everything not to be hidden!

I did all of that in order to live in freedom, and I will continue my struggle until I achieve my freedom. Freedom for ever.

I hope that here I will be free!

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (10)

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Author: A migratory girl

Seeking for protection in a world of war

Where is safety?

In a camp with 14,000 refugees coming from different places of earth living under inhuman conditions one piled upon the other, the authorities can do very little to protect us. In fact, the miserable conditions they force us to live in, the inhuman laws and rules they subject us to create a small world of violence - a form of systematic violence against all of us. If you live this violence day by day, you become part of it. In the end we humans, who are currently refugees in your Europe, must defend ourselves, our tents and our families against a generalised violence from above, but also from all sides. This violence can come come from any side now.

Where is safety?

If you live under conditions not worth for animals, violent conditions, then you can become violent any time yourself even if you share the same pain. 

I feel powerless against this violence. I feel it crawling in our veins. I don't want to become a part of this. I feel shame, when I see anger growing between people who suffer the same pain and shame when I feel anger rising inside me. 

Instead of establishing friendly relations between each other as oppressed people that face the same discrimination, we become part of the reasons of fear.

We escaped war, but it seems we are in war again. There is no way out. This is the war to survive the jungle called Europe.

It is so painful to witness women and children unable to sleep, afraid of violence. Their men must stay awake to guard in front of the tents, to protect their families all night. A pi8ece of nylon, a zipper separates them from any intruder.

Today when, more than ever before, we need each other, we are afraid of each other. We don't know from which side we could be attacked. We don't know who is a friend. We have lost trust in life and people because there is no system to protect us and to make us feel like humans among humans. 

Today instead of curing our wounds hand in hand, we put salt on each other’s wounds.

We are trapped in a desert where no one will help us and no one will ask about our whereabouts.

I am responsible of myself. Within this violence, I have to do the first step to not become part of this. I have to criticise me first and start the change from inside myself, as no help will ever come from outside. We have to start from ourselves, from our families, our communities, to stop the violence and to raise up against this system. 

I don't want to brake. I don't want to feel shame for my actions. I will stand firm against you violence and answer it with raised head and open fists. 

We crossed thousands of kilometres to find a life in safety, but it seems that there is no security here for us. I stopped believing that we will find a place in peace. We have to find peace inside us and withstand the war going on outside.

When violence erupts in Moria, when the police beat us, when people riot or even fight, we cannot count for protection by anyone. We have to find the solution to beat the monster.

Can you imagine yourself living in these conditions, having survived war, facing daily violence... Could you control yourself, stay calm and start peace if after all your fate was unclear for months and years while trapped in Moria?

Living under such anxiety and insecurity, we people are under permanent shock; we experience panic and trauma daily. We inflict injuries to ourselves and others. There are even kids hurting themselves and trying to commit suicide.

Where is safety? 

Clubs, tear-gas, wooden sticks, stones and knives... Fists and kicks.... 

Our shields of protection are naked hands and our dignity. All our wealth is our blankets and our few warm clothes. Fear of losing even these keeps us near our tent 24 hours a day. But even if we decided to move away, where could we go?

During the day, the knowledge that darkness is always near and fear of violence shakes our body.

For how long?

Wolves hunt in the darkness of night and the shepherds look after their flock. But here the wolves are the shepards, the shepards are the sheep and sheep turn into wolves. 

No sleep. No dreams.

Where is safety?

How long are we going to search for safety by holding guns in our hands? These hands, which long for a pen not a gun!

Open your doors for our lives'!

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 9)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Salinia Stroux

I am mother

I am mother of three children and  wife of a sick husband. He has a hernia on his backbone. He cannot walk. Neither should he get tired. So, I must look after my entire family on my own.

I am a woman, softer than flowers, but this life makes me harder than rocks.

Every day, as the sun rises, my mission starts. I wake up at 5am. I spread the blanket over my children. Then I go to get food. I walk 800 meters to the food line.  The line starts at 6:30am., but I want to be up front, the first one among a thousand women.

All this waiting for just 5 cakes and one litter of milk, which I suspect is mixed with water.

My boy has a kidney infection for five years now. He cannot tolerate hunger. I must go back as fast as I can.

When back, I gather all the blankets and spread them on the tent’s floor.

I sweep in front of my tent. With my own hands I made a broom from tree branches. I wet the soil with water to prevent the dust and dirt from coming inside.

I hardly finish and, once again, I must run to the food line for taking lunch. The queue starts at 11:30am although they distribute the food only at 13:00pm. So the whole waiting process, under unbearable conditions, starts for me again. In the line for hours, I do not know what happens to my children: Are they well? Are they safe? Has my son’s pain started?

We have been here for 200 days. And every week, we eat the same food – repetitive, tasteless, with no spices, little salt and oil. Three times a week beans, once meatballs, once chicken and once rice with sausage, which we don’t know for sure if it is Hallal. But I force my children to eat so they won’t stay hungry.

Securing meals is only one of my tasks. I must also wash my family’s clothes. As my children are all the day outside, their clothes get really dirty. Trying to clean the stains my hands get all chapped, the skin cracks. I need to rub them with oil every night.

I hang the clothes and, tiredly, I walk, once more, to the line for dinner—dinner only by name. Dry bread, one tomato and one egg. We must wet the bread to chew it. This is no dinner. When we have nothing to eat, we have to eat onion with bread (it’ s hot for children but we try to eat it cheerfully).

When my day finishes, I am really exhausted. But I do not want my family to notice. I fix my face. It should show no sadness, no fatigue. I hide my chapped hands from my husband and my children.

Sometimes, I don’t make it to the food line, because of the long queues, which I have to stand in to visit the clinic. I go there at 7:00am, but the process is very slow and, usually, every patient takes about 20 minutes inside. Then, the situation of my child gets worse than it normally is, because of his exposure to the sun and the polluted air outside. We need a specific permit to go get some drinking water.

Waiting in queue for four hours, without any toy or game, is very hard for children. It is equally hard for pregnant women like me. I know my husband is not happy when he sees me trying to manage on my own every day. But there is no other way. We don’t have anyone to help. Only ourselves. And he cannot.

I am my family’s strength, their courage, their hope. If I lose hope, who will stand by them? Who will help them? No one.

When the sun sets and darkness spreads, I am filled with fear. I fear also when it becomes cloudy and it rains. I fear the wind, I fear the cold. How will I protect my family? With what will I protect them, when we do not have anything?

When you don’ t have any resources, what are you going to do? I collect the blankets from the floor and spread the cardboards instead. The blankets are our covers at night and the carpets during the day.

I am a mother and wife. My children are the pieces of my heart and my husband is my blood. They are all I have in my life. But who am I for myself?

I don’t have time to even see myself in the mirror. I don’t have time to comb my hair once a day. I don’t have time to brush my teeth in 24 hours.  I can’t take care of my skin. I can’t be a woman .

I am content to sacrifice myself to make a comfortable life for my children and my love, my husband. Because I am a woman. It is my choice to be like this. Life is hard here and there is nowhere good to go.

I was given the documents to go to the mainland. But I canceled my ticket. On the mainland, the authorities will put us in a hotel, far from hospitals or clinics that we depend on. What am I going to do there with my sick child and my husband and myself pregnant? We need (specialised) doctors. We need protection and care. 

I am sorry that I don’ t have time to speak with my family as a mother, as a wife and as a friend. Because I don’ t have more power. I can’ t do more in 24 hours, than bring food, go to clinics, stand in lines.

I have had enough. I can’t continue anymore. Truly, if I didn’t have my children, I would have committed suicide. I live only because it is worth living for them. And now, I am pregnant and I carry one more life in me.

I am one for myself, but four for my family. Soon I will be five…

Parwana

p.s. For all the mothers!

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 8)

Author: A migratory girl

My pen won’t brake, but borders will

I didn’t know that in Europe people get divided in the ones with passports and the ones without. I didn’t know that I would be treated as ‘a refugee’, a person without papers, without rights. I thought we escaped from emergencies, but here our arrival is considered an emergency for the locals. I thought our situation in the camp is an emergency, but in Europe the meaning of emergency for people like ‘us’ is to be dead.

Under the conditions we live exposed to heat in summer and rainfalls in winter, in the middle of garbage, dirt and sewage water, unsafe in permanent stress and fear facing the violence of the European Asylum System in this small world of 15,000 people – we are all emergency cases.

In fact in Moria, most arrived already with injuries in their souls and sometimes on their bodies. But here everyone gets ill, also the healthy, and our situation let our sicknesses turn to emergencies very fast.

Consider the story behind life in Moria hotspot: Having spent days, weeks or months walking up and down hills, over rocks and in between trees while living in a forest. Standing in queues for hours. Lost between what we think of as protection and what they create to hinder us reaching it.

In Europe we become like ping pong balls. The authorities shoot us from one office to another, back and forth without ending and without understanding what, where, why – which makes our situation worse and worse. Even the ‘success story’ of receiving finally a residence permit can’t end the discriminating looks we have to live with every day.

We are not another quality of people; another class of humans; another kind. We are different people with thousand different stories. What unites us is just that we had to leave our homes.

So stop treating us different. Stop lying and pretending that people are safe here. Stop saying Europe was a better place, when it is only better for some and not even accessible for others.

We are not treated like being a part of Lesvos’ population, like Greeks, like Europeans. Our destiny depends on a bureaucrats decision, on the economical value of a political decision in favour of migration or not, on the political mood dominant in the continent, on European strategies and plans. It is not build on the foundation of ‘us’ and ‘you’ being one kind.

I am a girl in a tent and I am thinking about this world as the days won’t pass by and I am waiting for the permit to leave this place.

My pen wont brake unless we won’t end this story of inequality and discrimination among human kind. My words will always brake the borders you built.

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 7)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Parwana

For a bread – for life

Life has normally ups and downs, but my life has always been flat. I have been trapped in a deep valley.

I am getting close to my lives’ end. At an age when every old woman needs to rest, I push my heart to work and earn money for my husband who suffers from heart problems and for our son.

Yet, instead of taking care of my husbands sickness, we must first prove his illness, they say. Our words don’t count, but only papers. Do we need to take out his heart to show he is ill?

After many medical tests we undertook with many difficulties, they told us that his illness should be certified by the doctors of the big hospital. The name of his sickness has to be written in words on a paper. They didn’t tell us, who will cove his transportation costs to go to town? Of course no one will!

When my husbands’ heart suffered, I desired my death as I could not help without a Cent in my pocket…

Days passed. I decided to build a tandoor (trad. oven) to bake break and sell it. I thought, I could purchase the necessary ingredients by borrowing some money from one of our relatives, who had a cash card. Just 0,50 euros, that’s all I needed! I touched the fifty cents and my old hands were shaking. Not only because of my old age. Not only because of my worry for my sick husband. They shake at the thought of the thousand year old olive tree that will burn under my tandoor. I tremble with the idea of the axe reaching the old tree. I can feel its crying out. Yet, I must have fire to bake my bread. …

But it is the rule of nature: Eat or be eaten.

How many troubles have I faced in hope of today’s bread to cure my husband. Yet, I need a cure too. My heart burns at the thought of the felled burning trees. But, I must ignore my heart, I must take care of my old husband. I must bake the bread!

With my old hands I shall prepare dough that needs powerful arms, but my arms are weak and shaking. I will do it! I will wake up at 4:00am! First, I will read my prayers. Then I will start the dough. Flour, oil, salt, yeast and water. I will mix them all together. And then. I will let the dough rest. Once raised, I will cut out small shapes and let them rest again. By 7:00am the pieces will be ready for the tandoor.

My son walks far away onto the hills to collect dry wood and start the fire. Oh, how the old trees turn into ashes. My son instead of going to school will go around trying to sell the bread when its ready. From the early morning until the late evening he will call people to buy it. There are a lot of bakeries nowadays in Moria and selling is very difficult.

Hundreds of steps, hundreds of moves, a lot of sweat in respect of life, in respect of the bread and in respect of the trees.

This is our situation and this is how we spend our days. No one knows about it. No one can see. I have always been in the flat valley. No ups in my life. My voice, my cries will never be heard. They are old and weak. My shaking hands will be never held by a stronger hand. In this age, they still have to hold my family.

I want to be a friend of nature, not its enemy. I want to pass my last days with my family in rest, to have some comfort, to sit for days in the shadow of the trees, not to burn them. But life is very ruthless. Sometimes we people are obliged to do things we don’t want to do it. See what life forces us to do…

What if someone in this world would hold my hands, so I could become an ally of nature walking away from the deep valleys, up to the mountains and the sun?

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 6)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Salinia Stroux

I am a volunteer translator

I am the father of two children. I am the husband of a woman full of emotion. And above all, I am a human being. It is only one aspect of my current situation, that I am also a refugee, one among thousands of others.

Every day, I work for hours to help people access services and solve their problems. Every day, exhausted, I run 900m distance to eat lunch in hurry, and quickly come back to continue help more people.           

On these days where I am helping, my wife carries all the housekeeping responsibilities alone: She looks after the children, waits in endless lines to get some food for us all, washes clothes, puts some order in our abode. She does all these things with pleasure, so that I can help translate the troubles of the people standing in the sun for hours, in need for someone to communicate on their behalf.

What happens to our children when she needs to go away from our tent and leaves them in our neighbour’s tent? Are they safe? They will not be bothered by someone? They don’t miss us? Such questions torture me during all the day.

Today, I am sorry that my name is father. I am sorry, that I cannot be the good father – as I want, that I cannot be the good husband – as I want. I try to be a good father, and I try to help all the others who suffer the same conditions like us.

Today, while I was translating for a doctor the symptoms of a patient, when a familiar sound of crying, reached my ears. I did not have the heart to leave my work half done and check of the person belonging to that voice. So patiently, I continued, trying to keep my attention on the words I had to translate. Yet, that familiar sound set off  an explosion in my brain. Finally, when I was needed no more, stressed-out and anxious, I approached the door. 

What I had feared, a few minutes before, was indeed true. That was the sound of my wife’s crying as she tried to come inside to see the doctor. In her arms, there was our daughter, unconscious. The girl had been vomiting a lot in the tent, she explained, and when they started out for the clinic she fainted. The guard advised me that she should have taken our daughter to the Doctors without Borders (MSF). But I wasn‘t able to open my mouth to  utter the words. 

The sight of my wife‘s eyes, now blood-shot, and the sight my listless daughter in her arm left me speechless and my mind blank. I could not even explain that she was my wife. Only, when she started suddenly, to shake, did I come back to myself. So I turned to the nurse and did what I did for all the other patients: I described what had happened. The nurse went to have a look, only to tell us that it would have been better to bring her earlier. How could they have come all that distance faster? Did she not know our difficult living conditions? When she went to examine our child, I, too, went back to my work. I didn’t want people to stay waiting while sick like my child, in that bad weather.             

When my working time finished, we started out for our tent: my wife, my daughter and me. Feeling a bit better, my little girl lifted herself and asked for a juice. But…

However, the UNHCR, the European Union and Greece get thousands of Euros everyday. In spite of that, they do not hire enough translators to help sick people in clinics inside the camp of Moria and in the big hospital. Lack of translators, even in emergencies, is one of the most common problems of people.

To rely on migrant volunteer translators is shameful. Europe should feel shame. When even in its own hospitals nurses speak no English, how can they expect it from people who come from places where many kids have no access to proper education?

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to the father, husband, human being, volunteer translator, who shared his story and happens to be a refugee today!

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 5)

Author: A migratory girl

These eyes bother me!

I am young girl full of energy, power and self-confidence. Everyday there are a lot of voices inside me inviting me to let this energy out. BUT I am in Moria, between thousands of unclean eyes, that are looking to my body and not to my soul. These eyes bother me. I can not play volleyball. I can not even just walk straight down one path. My head should be down. When I am crossing the roads it is difficult like passing the borders for me.

200 metres to the toilets. 400 metres to the food queue. Again 400 metres back. Along this distance there are hundreds of eyes looking to me.

Girl-molesting is common, is daily. Even when they disturb us we are not supposed to answer them. We are not supposed to turn around. We can not say: ‘Don’t follow me! Stop bothering me!’

While washing my clothes I feel ashame, because boys are looking to me. I can’t look back to them, because they will misunderstand. So all sport places are used only by boys, all playgrounds are used only by boys. And we are locked inside.

Even men in the age of my father look to my body. I don’t know where I am. This doesn’t look like Europe here. When I was at school I learned that Europe is the mother of freedom, but I am living in the middle of eye violence. There are everywhere eyes. There is nowhere freedom. I am a prisoner here and this is the jail. I will not be able to forget these memories.

Instead of playing with other girls, I have to stay inside. Instead of walking proudly, I should walk with my eyes turned down. I am forced to feel shame and fear.

See, I am actually like you. I am thirteen years old. I am a young girl. But I have to wear a scarf because the look of my hair is a source of their lust, they say. Why I should cover my head, because they cannot control themselves? Why I should cover my head at all? Why I have to get limited, punished? I am a human being but they are looking to me like animals, like I was their prey. I am afraid of these wolves. I am afraid of losing my honour, the respect and I start feeling bad just because of my gender.

But it’s enough! Stand up girls! Stand up women! We are not their objects of lust! We are not the prey of wolves! We should shout out that we want to be safe! We want our rights! We want to look up!

Parwana

P.S. I am sorry for all of Moria‘s girls who suffer the same, and specially for my sisters.

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 4)

copyright: migratory girl

Author: A migratory girl

A baby with 3 days Diarrhea and vomiting…

Just a mother can understand me. My baby got sick and she started vomiting and having Diarrhea for three day. I was seeing her crying, but I could do nothing. I was seeing her vomiting, but I could do nothing.

This is the third day that I am going to doctor waiting for four hours in the back of the door, but no one cares. In one day I had to bring her about 14 times to the toilette and every time I had to wait 10 minutes in the queue.

After waiting for four hours at the clinic, they gave me just two spoons of syrup and a tablet that didn’t help. Every night I had to stay awake till morning with my daughter and again I had to go to the clinic at 05:00am, even though the clinic opens at 08:00am, but I had to take a number.

I want my daughters’ health back. We are all mothers and we are all human. We want to see our kids smiling. We are living on one planet. While you are designing your daughters’ kids room. I am trying to keep mine warm at a fire.

I had to take by girl to town hospital finally, but even I didn‘t have the 2€ to buy a bus ticket. I had to borrow it.

Now, god gave her health back, but still I cry because when she wants to eat a banana I don’t have money to get it for her. When she see sweets in other children’s hand asking me to have one for her own, I can’t buy it to her. I am unable to satisfy her whishes. I feel I am a very bad mother, because I gave birth to her but now I cant give her anything she wants.

I didn’t choose this situation. I didn’t want to be in this prison in Moria. It is something that fate chose for me.

But you are able to help. You can chose. You can take our hands and stand beside us. God gives to one and takes from another. He tests us. I am sure, I will loose this test, because I have children and I will not be patient when I see their feelings.

Don’t help me! Help my children! Help our children! They are making their first steps in life. Please don’t let them down. Don’t let them feel weak and alone in this huge world.

From a chat with one mother of many in Moria camp…

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 3)

copyright: Maria Schiffer

Author: A migratory girl

I AM A MINOR WITHOUT A GUARDIAN

See what are our problems…

In Moria we have no place to stay. We are without shelter among thousands of adults and strangers. We sleep on the floor, in tents and anywhere we can find until we may get a place in a overcrowded container.

We are alone and there is no love. I feel I am the most lonely person in the world. We have no relative, no family to be with. We have no one to talk to and to protect us or give us advise. It is the main reason why we think of suicide and why many of us end up in addictions.

We have nothing useful to do. Oh, I became tired of life. It is boring to just wait not knowing why. There are no activities for us. There is no variety in our days but always the same rythim. Everyday is same in Moria. There is no difference between yesterday and today. I am a teenager full of energy. I should get rid of this energy like a snake empties its poison. I want to learn things, do things, grow.

This situation destroys me. It is changing my thoughts.

I am thinking to go out of this camp and this island in any way – legal or illegal. I would even climb under a truck to enter the ferry to Athens. I cannot be here anymore.

I am thinking what I should do? I am desperate because I have no money. I start smoking today, maybe I will take drugs tomorrow to not feel hungry, to not feel the time being stopped, to just to be far from this bad world.

I am thinking if I should wait for four months for a medical age test to correct my age or I should just run.

I am feeling hurt, seeing the others who have their mothers next to them and a shoulder to cry, someone to trust.

I become like a lost kid, who doesn’t know what to do, where to go. I need guidance.

I am thinking that every person I find in front of me is a wolf looking for a goat. I am scared.

I am thinking, why is there is no candle on my dark way?

I am bothering girls to make them feel weak and me strong.

I become afraid of losing everything, loosing my believes, loosing myself, loosing my way.

How long am I going to be here in Moria?

How am I going to survive this?

Whom can I trust?

Hundreds of us are in this situation here. We are more than 1.000 on this island, in this hell, I heard. Together we could have the power to build a city, to improve a countries’ economy, to change big things. Instead we don’t even know how to not destroy ourselves. We just need someone to hold our hand and lead us to the wright way, to tell us about good and bad, wright and wrong. To tell us how to use our power in a positive way, a way that will make us proud before ourselves and before our families and the society, someone to remind us who we are.

Parwana

P.S. Special thanks to Yaser. I hope you will find your way my friend!