After destroying Greek camp, refugees receive European support


Lesbos, Greece – Among the charred remains that once were Moriya There is a notebook left behind by one of the thousands of people in the refugee camp, who rush to save their lives when a fire breaks through a sprawling refugee camp on Lesbos.

On one page, some basic sentences. The book was of an Afghan refugee trying to learn English, as he attempted to start a new life away from war.

“What is your favorite sport”, “My favorite sport is football”, “What do you do in your free time”, “I usually study the book”, “What is your nationality”, “I am Afghan” .

He or she is one of the thousands who are now searching for answers on the streets of Lesbos.

Since the fire about a week ago, in which about 13,000 people were left without shelter, thousands have been sleeping at the roadside and at the petrol station.

A temporary camp has been built nearby to house some of Moria’s former residents, but concerns over the plans for a permanent reception center for refugees and migrants on Lesbos.

Locals disapproved of the plan, aid personnel have humanitarian concerns, and refugees fear that the center will be jailed, leaving them unable to start new lives in other EU countries.

The police protests with tear gas among protesters, and journalists widely denied access to the site where thousands of people have been sleeping for the past two days, the situation is tense.

According to the police, a “military operation” was going on and the Chief of Police had orders to keep journalists away from the area.

According to the Greek Migration Ministry, the new temporary camp now has about 300 people, with a capacity of about 3,000 people.

An Afghan boy gives a signal during a peaceful demonstration on 12 September saying ‘we need peace, freedom’ to be allowed to leave the island of Lesos. [Anna Pantelia/Al Jazeera]

A young Afghan father, who had been sleeping on the streets for days, felt anxious and anxious about moving to a new temporary camp without his wife, with whom he usually makes important decisions.

After the fire, he was hospitalized and released to take care of his six children, including an eight-month-old baby.

Those living on the streets feel abandoned by “Europe” when they hoped to cross the sea to reach Greece.

“Everyone knows what is going on,” said 27-year-old Marjia bouncing her three-month-old baby in her lap. “Angela Merkel looks at us and closes her eyes. I have come here for my children and no one has opened the way for me.”

Food delivery has been busy and sometimes non-existent, but Marjia says food is no less important to her than leaving the island.

“We don’t want food, we want freedom,” he said.

This weekend, people picked up cardboard placards chanting slogans like “We want, peace, freedom”, and “Europe, help”.

He was met with tear gas by riot police on Saturday and the young children were affected. The rallies on Sunday were mainly led by women and children, who chanted “No camp, freedom”.

“We don’t want to leave, we never want to go back again,” said 26-year-old Nazir Ahmed, a refugee from Afghanistan.

He sleeps in the car park of a supermarket. As dusk approaches, the children play a fantastic game of hoopscot and a group of men play volleyball.

A week ago, this car park would have been empty on Sunday evening.

Ahmed said, “I have two children and my wife is pregnant again.” “We’ve been here for a year and two months. How can I go to a camp here again? We’ll leave here and go anywhere.”

“We want to go to the mainland or any other European country, at least somewhere where people understand us.

“They use tear gas against us and my children. We had to protect ourselves from Afghanistan but here we are sometimes threatened by other refugees, from far-flung people and sometimes from the police.”

Nazneen, who is 14 years old, carefully writes a message on her phone that she wants to share.

“All refugees want freedom from this situation, we don’t want hell again, we want help from Europe,” she types. “Please share it with the people of Europe,” she says and asks if people in other European countries care about the situation she is in.

Addressing German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, some children sitting by the roadside have a cardboard sign written in German. “Mr. Seehofer, say yes, thank you,” it says.

Some federal states in Germany have offered to take refuge in Lesbos and mayors of cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf have written to Sehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel to this effect.

Greece has repeatedly called for greater European solidarity to deal with severe overcrowding at the Aegean island camps.

The new temporary camp is visible from Moria-Mytilene Road, dotted with White UNHCR Tents.

At a press conference on Sunday, the Greek Minister of Migration, Notice Mitrakis, said it would be “temporary”, but confirmed that a new “permanent” structure would soon be on the island.

Prior to the fire, there was a discussion with the Ministry of Migration about “closed and controlled” camps that had about 35 confirmed cases before burning to the ground in light of the first confirmed case of coronovirus infection in the Moria camp.

Now the coronovirus is one of the many problems people fled to Moria.

On the streets, conversations are bursting with questions. “What’s going to happen to us? Do you know? Has any European country offered to take us?”

For now, as the stress boils, there is little to do but wait.

In the twilight of Sunday evening, a little girl is holding her hand, with a cut on it.

“are you a Doctor?” He asked. A mother also asks for milk formula for her child, she does not have any.

This weekend, people picked up cardboard placards chanting slogans like “We want peace, freedom”, and “Europe, help”.

Lesbos Fire - What Next?

Greek riot police firing against mob after peaceful demonstration in Kara Pepe, Lesbos, as an Afghan woman escapes with tear gas [Anna Pantelia/Al Jazeera]

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