The “Hot spots” are not working…at least not for those they were intended to help. OK, I can only speak on Samos … but from reports from friends and colleagues , it is the same pretty much all over the 5 main Greek islands.!Yesterday in Samos there was heavy rain again. The port, which now has no large tent left and where no smaller tents are now permitted had an average of 300 people… wet people. All we could offer them was rain ponchos. Some people were being accomodated in the few cabins still remaining and some in the Ikea houses still there… And , The port is the “decent ” camp on the Island.
In , what is now being called the screening centre, but which the title “detention camp” springs more readily to mind, there are approximately 1000 people. I reiterate, as so many times before, It is only for the International volunteers, the Greek volunteers, the co-operation of these groups that this camp has any semblance of humanity . It is these people who feed both camps, on a voluntary basis, every morning and every evening, regardless of numbers, weather or negativity from larger organisations.Clothes are now being distributed in cars driven from the warehouse as the distribution cabin is no longer in situe in either camp. The screening centre is still a construction site, therefore , not able to adequately accommodate the numbers.Lines and lines of pop up tents are now huddled together in passageways between structures . The only area the food kitchens are permitted to set up is at the top of an incredible incline… almost impossible for healthy legs to reach never mind the elderly, the sick and the injured arriving from countries bombarded and being destroyed by war.
The registration takes place at the bottom of the incline and still manages to take hours and hours. While waiting for registration, you don’t leave the small concrete passage way surrounded by wire and fencing… and you don’t go for food…
The other problem is the hierarchy now running the camp. It seems, without a badge or a clipboard, the camp is not in need of us… except when they have no way to transport people back down to the port ( after bringing them up from the port hours earlier!!! )
Derek and I are human rights workers. We are volunteers and we rely heavily on the help and support of others. We have always been transparent and open about everything we do and how we do it. For this reason, we feel we should now move from Samos. We do not feel justified in staying here using your support and donations whilst not feeling we are doing enough to deserve your help. We know we can make better use of our time and your support elsewhere. Samos still needs help but much of the help on offer is for now being pushed out.
And so we move in a week or ten days.( update: we hope to leave tomorrow) The smugglers are not fooled into losing business by the NATO ships patrolling the seas or by the presence of NGO or Army controlled island camps. Many of the smuggling boats are now just abandoning the refugees on the smaller islands dotted around the Aegean. These islands have little more than a few hundred houses and residents who are now trying to cope and offer whatever they can without any help.This is where we can help, I hope.
A tiny island, Agathonisi is quiet and peaceful and is almost traffic free
The islanders live mainly off fishing and the estimated 800 tourists that visit the island every summer. The locals have often gone through hardships because of poverty and isolation, but they are warm and friendly and will try to make you feel at home as soon as you arrive. Agathonisi is the northernmost islet of the Dodecanese.. Agathonisi extends over approximately 14 square kilometres, has a coastline of 32 km and numbers less than 200 inhabitants mainly occupied with livestock and fishing, fish farming and tourism.
Last month, An outpost on the island located a boat carrying refugees and contacted the Coast Guard for assistance, as the boat had capsized and sunk.A rescue boat dispatched found 20 survivors and recovered the bodies of 3 children, two boys and one girl.The numbers arriving since have increased dramatically.
This morning, March 3rd 2016, MOAS Aegean crew just finished conducting the rescue of 63 refugees off the coast of Agathonisi. Post-rescue care was administered on board The Responder & all have been safely disembarked.( Pictures courtesy of MOAS)
We would like to be able to offer our help to both the residents of the island as well as to the refugees being abandoned by ruthless smugglers. We will literally be there as people come off the boats, hopefully safely but there, regardless of the situation. We hope to bring enough aid with us for basic help at least in the beginning.We dont know of any others on the island as yet but whatever the case when we arrive, we hope we are as prepared as possible to deal with it all.
As with when we moved to Gaza or first arrived on Samos , We need a large amount of help to do this. We , as always , will cover our own costs ( unless there is a wonderful donor out there who finally takes pity on us ?) but we do need money to cover aid. We will firstly bring the basics, rain covers, emergency blankets, first aid kits, blankets, underwear, socks, food, mother and baby kits. Once on the island we will work out what else is needed and continue from there.
So, once again , but quite urgently this time, we are making a call out for help. Please help us have enough to help those literally as they arrive on the coast, on the beaches , on the rocks or wherever they come in on the Island.. Help us offer a little bit of help, humanity, solidarity to both the residents doing this alone right now and to the refugees still fleeing war and conflict, still searching for safety for their families, still escaping the bombs and cruelty being inflicted and still about to face the tightening corridors , the higher fences , the sharper barbed wire of fortress Europe.
Whatever you can offer, any amount, will be deeply appreciated by both Derek and myself as well as by those who you help. We can buy a lot of ponchos for little money, we can buy more for more money! We have always relied on peoples solidarity to us, We have never taken it for granted and we hope to one day thank you all… but for now, We are still asking…
For paypal donations, please click Donate to refugee appeal ( please read our donate page tab ( on top of page) also for clarification purposes)
or for bank account details, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fundraising for long term help is always appreciated. Aid donations will no doubt be needed at a later stage.Group help, Individual help is essential and comes in many forms, Although financial donations are needed right now, the spreading of awareness, the truth of what is happening is vital. Please share widely this blog, these updates but also the updates from all the other volunteers in both the Greek Islands, Calais and Dunkirk camps and Idomeni on the Greek/Macedonian border
Derek and jenny
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