A Disaster In The Making..

The new “temporary” camp in Kara Tepe, Lesvos, is massive. The scale of this camp is like nothing we have ever seen before in Europe. When finished, it will have a capacity of 12.000 people, according to the Greek government.

This camp might look ok from the air, but the tents is mostly put directly on the ground, without any palettes underneath, and when it starts to rain, water and mud will be a huge problem. First test will be this weekend when wether forecast is predicting heavy rain and wind.

Since this morning people have been ordered to go in to the new camps from the surrounding areas by a massive police force, press has been denied access to the area.

They Need Your Support Now!

There is a desperate need of support on Lesvos after the fire in Moria, and many have asked who they should support. It’s actually a very difficult question, there are many organizations and NGOs doing a tremendous job on the ground.

Picture ©Giorgos Moutafis

When that is said, unfortunately, there are also organizations that are taking advantage of this disaster, to benefit on others misery, only to build up their bank accounts, so that they can give themselves even higher salaries. I have seen organizations that hardly have any volunteers on the ground, doing basically nothing to support, take inn hundreds of thousands of euros, this is a concern. When asked what they are doing to support, they answer that they need to assess the situation, evaluate what help is needed.. Its obvious that people needs help NOW, families with children are living in the streets and needs immediate support, not after long evaluations and fancy board meetings.

So please, when you support a organization, and you definitely should, make sure this organization/NGO actually are doing something on the ground, that they are helping NOW, because the money is needed NOW, and shouldn’t go to support a General secretary’s fat salary!

Aegean Boat Report has put together a list of Organizations/NGOs that really can use your support. This is done because there has been many questions, especially on where to send donations, so that the people can get the help they desperately needs NOW. This list contains only 20 organizations/NGOs, and it’s not made to offend anyone, yes, there are probably many more who are doing great work on the ground, and perhaps should have been on a list, but when you ask, these are 20 recommendations from Aegean Boat Report.

Attika Human Supporthttps://www.attikahumansupport.org/

Because We Carryhttps://www.becausewecarry.org/en/

Donate4Refugeeshttps://www.donate4refugees.org/

EuroReliefhttps://www.eurorelief.net/

Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aidhttps://www.fenixaid.org/

Healthbridge Medical Organizationhttps://www.healthbridgemedical.org/

Home for Allhttps://homeforall.eu/

Humanity Crewhttps://humanitycrew.org/

Kitrinos Healthcarehttps://www.kitrinoshealthcare.org/

Lesvos Solidarity – Pikpahttps://www.lesvossolidarity.org/en/

Medical Volunteers Internationalhttps://medical-volunteers.org/

Moria Corona Awareness Teamhttps://www.facebook.comMoriaCoronaAwarenessTeam/

MSF – Greecehttps://www.msf.org/greece

No Border Kitchen Lesvoshttps://noborderkitchenlesvos.noblogs.org/

Refugee 4 Refugeeshttps://refugee4refugees.gr/

Team Humanityhttps://teamhumanity.info/

The Hope projecthttps://www.hopeprojectgreece.org/

Together for Better Dayshttps://www.betterdays.ngo/

Watershed Foundationhttps://watershed-foundation.de/en/home

Feel free to recommend other organizations in the comment section, but the list above will not be edited. In the end, anyone who wants to support a organization, should take the time to look into what the organization are actually doing, and if the money donated is being received on the ground where it’s needed. Any slandering remarks and down talk about organizations, is NOT wanted on this post, and will be removed immediately!

Moria #2

The new temporary camp on Lesvos north of Kara Tepe, on the old shooting range,is starting to take shape. The Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi was on site today and gave a short statement to the press.

Picture by Giorgos Moutafis

By the end of the day, he said, there will be 5000 beds ready, and eventually everyone will be placed in this new temporary camp. First priority will be families and vulnerable people.

As we can see from the picture, there are atm 200 tents in the camp, and if they haven’t additional areas available around this shooting range, there isn’t really room for more tents. These tents are made to house 6 people, and as far as I understand they will put 10 people in each tent. The math is quite simple, even for the Minister, this camp, as is, can only house 2000 people.

To be able to have 5000 beds ready by the end of the day, they would need 500 tents, and to house everyone in need off housing from Moria, 12.000 people, they would need 1200 tents. It seems, once again, that the minister has lost touch with reality, what he claims isn’t possible.

The tents seems to be placed very close to each-other, and that the safe distance between tents, normally 3 meters, to prevent a fire to spread, isn’t followed. Moria went up in flames in a matter of hours, because everything was built to tight, fire safety was ignored, haven’t they learned anything from their mistakes? To see that safety for vulnerable people once again are ignored is shocking, especially after what they just experienced.

This new temporary camp is already fenced in, and as I understand will be a closed camp run by the military. Where they will house everyone that lost their homes in the blaze in Moria remains to be seen, until then people will be scattered around in field’s, car parks and on the roads in the area, and will need support from organizations and NGOs.

The last days we have seen many organizations running fundraising on social media, to support people after the fire. Many of these organizations really needs your support, and are doing an amazing job on the ground. Unfortunately there are also organizations that are taking advantage of this disaster, to benefit on others misery, only to build up their bank accounts, so that they can give themselves even higher salaries. I have seen organizations that hardly have any volunteers on the ground, doing basically nothing to support, take inn hundreds of thousands of euros, this is a concern. When asked what they are doing to support, they answer that they need to assess the situation, evaluate what help is needed.. Its obvious that people needs help NOW, families with children are living in the streets and needs immediate support, not after long evaluations and fancy board meetings.

So please, when you support a organization, and you definitely should, make sure this organization/NGO actually are doing something on the ground, that they are helping NOW, because the money is needed NOW, and shouldn’t go to support a General secretary’s fat salary!

The End Of Moria..

Yesterday Moria burned, today we could see the devastating result, the camp that once housed almost 13.000 people was turned into twisted metal and ashes. It’s difficult to see how this camp can be used in the nearby future to house anyone.

Only a few sections remained fairly intact after yesterday’s fires, tonight these zones are also burning. Fires erupted in at least two different areas, Zone 9 and 10 has already been burned down tonight, one more will most likely not make it through tonight’s fire. That leaves only one zone in the entire camp habitable, zone 11, room for roughly 1500 people. Around 11.000 people will need to find new accommodations, if the remaining zone lives through the night.

All roads has been blocked by police in the area, no organization has been allowed to enter within a 6 km radius, NGOs are standing ready to help, but they are not allowed to enter. People are filling up the streets, and the surrounding woods, seeking shelter wherever they can.

Local fascists groups has started to patrol the streets in Mytilíni, there has also been reports on clashes between locals and refugees. The situation is chaotic and extremely tense, police are trying to keep people from entering Mytilíni. Refugees and MAT forces has already clashed in Panagiouda, Kara-Tepe area, people have just had enough.

Greek government has announced that they will bring in a ferry, and two military vessels, to house people temporarily, in addition to 3500 tents. The Blue Star ferry will arrive in Mytilíni tonight, the military vessel tomorrow. Temporary camps will be put up in Klic of Larsos, and in Lemonou, to house the homeless residents from Moria. A military plane are arriving tonight, bringing tents to be set up in these areas.

Mitarakis indicates that Moria camp, witch has been totally destroyed by the fire, will not be rebuilt but replaced with a closed facility, a prison. When this will happen, and who will fund it, remains to be seen, hopefully the EU will not fund prisons for families and children..

The deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Managment, Nikos Chardalias declared a state of emergency on Lesvos, for the next four months. Police presence on the island is expected to be substantially boosted.

Moria Burning!

Tonight several fires broke out in the notorious Moria refugee camp on Lesvos. It’s by far the worst fire Moria have ever seen, and it would take a miracle if anything remains standing in the morning.

It seems like every part of the camp and surrounding areas are engulfed in flames, the new hospital in Moria is gone, so are the quarantine area Mandala. People are fleeing, a mass amount of people are heading towards Mytilíni.

All assets on Lesvos is being used, fire department, police, riot police, to try to get things under control, but it seems hopeless, the fire is just to massive, growing bigger by the minute.

Moria was the biggest refugee camp in Europe, housing almost 13.000 people, most of them have now lost what little they had. Where all these people will stay in the coming days and weeks, will be a huge and almost impossible challenge.

What caused these fires is to early to say, but riots is the most plausible explanation. The camp has been under lockdown for months, stem has been building up. Greek government has used the pandemic, as a pretext to keep camps closed all over Greece, people have just had enough, tonight it exploded.

The announcement that 35 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Moria, could have been the factor that made people snap, in the worst refugee camp in Europe. How Lesvos can handle this disaster is difficult to see.

Let’s just pray that no life has been lost in the flames..

Arrivals On Samos!

A rubber boat carrying 18 people, 12 adults and 6 children, arrived on Cape Praso, Samos north east this morning 06.00. The people fled to the woods after landing, scared to be returned to Turkey by Greek coast guard.

Aegean Boat Report has been in contact with the group, to document their arrival, to make sure that we can prove without a doubt, that they arrived on Samos, ABR has received pictures and videos. The main concern is that these people will find themselves floating in the Aegean Sea on a life raft later today, ABR will try to make sure this will not happen. Port police an Samos have been informed, given contact information, details and location.

Any questions regarding this incident can he address to the Port Police on Samos. This number is open 24/7.

Port police Samos: +30 22730 27318

By documenting arrivals, we can put pressure on port police, so that they find it difficult to illegally return them to Turkey, because they know we know.

40.000 Followers On Facebook

Yesterday Aegean Boat Report past another milestone, 40.000 followers on Facebook, and counting.

To run and manage every aspect of this organization, from a small town in northern Norway, alone, has never been easy. These last months has been especially challenging, travel restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing has made information so much more difficult to come by.

Information provided by Aegean Boat Report is used by organization, journalists, researchers and volunteers, to get a better understanding of the situation in the Aegean Sea. Documenting violations of international law and human rights, has lately been a priority.

It started out as a small community on Facebook, with one single purposes, to provide information. This community has grown beyond my wildest expectations. It has been a long journey from December 2017 until today, and I’m exited to see what the future will bring.

To everyone who has supported me on this journey, THANK YOU ❣️

Greek Minister Confirms Pushbacks!

For the last five months the Greek government has categorically denied any involvement in pushback’s or illegal activities in the Aegean Sea. And then the Greek shipping minister, Giannis Plakiotakis, blows the whistle, bragging about their achievement on a new conference.

“Since the start of the year, the entry of more than 10,000 people has been prevented,” Plakiotakis said during a news conference. In August alone, he said, “we had 68 cases of prevention and we succeeded in 3,000 people not entering our country.”

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis was interviewed on CNN, where he was asked a direct question regarding reports on pushbacks from an article written by Patrick Kingsley in The New York Times. He denied involvement in any illegal activities, and referred to the article in NYT as Turkish propaganda.

The Greek Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, has been interviewed several times by international press, last time was on Monday on BBC World news. He was also asked a direct question regarding pushbacks on a live interview from Samos by BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet, he also denied any involvement in pushbacks, they are both obviously lying.

Plakiotakis would not say anything about how the boats were stopped from entering Greek waters, which also is the southeastern border of the EU. But he stressed that the coast guard “operates based on international law and international legality, based on the rules of engagement at sea, and,.. with complete respect for human dignity and of course for human life.”

Question is, how can pushing back boats filled with asylum seekers be seen as legal, without allowing them to apply for asylum, and how can forcing people, children, women, into life rafts and leaving them drifting, be seen as dignifying , respectful of human lives?

The UN refugee agency said on Aug. 21 it was “deeply concerned by an increasing number of credible reports indicating that men, women and children may have been informally returned to Turkey immediately after reaching Greek soil or territorial waters in recent months.” The agency called on Greece to “seriously investigate” the reports.

Frontex involvement in these pushbacks has been questioned, although there has been a few officials reports from Frontex regarding illegal returns by the Hellenic coast guard, they are strangely quiet. With a massive presence in the Aegean Sea, 13 boats, four plains, a helicopter, 650 officers and 72 patrol cars, they seems to be unwilling to report on these illegal activities, they know what is going on, question is, how involved are they?

Aegean Boat Report has documented hundreds of illegal pushbacks since March. With the massive amount of evidence, there is no question if this is going on, and who is responsible. The questions that remains to be answered is, how far are Europe willing to go to protect its borders, and how long will the European Union turn a blind eye to member states who are deliberately breaking international law and violating human rights?

“Never Again”…

The Greek government is taking the “pandemic excuse” even one step further. They have already kept all camps under lockdown for months, now they will close the camps for good. Children and families will be put behind barbed wire, in the new “prisons” on Lesvos and Chios.

Yesterday it was announced by the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, that there will be built a fence around Moria, at a cost of 854.000 Euros, by a local contractor, due to be finished in only two months. Also land areas around the existing structure in Moria has been rented, to build this new closed structure, a prison for people seeking safety.

Many believe that it’s only a fence, shouldn’t be to problematic right.. But when we talk about guard towers, double fencing with a dead zone six meters wide, controlled entry-exit with cards and fingerprints, 24-hour surveillance system with cameras, baggage control systems and metal detectors, we are no longer talking about a camp, but a prison. Asylum seeker within these prison centers, will be treated as criminals who has committed serious offenses, and as prisoners, they will lose many of their basic rights.

The official number in Moria is 13.000 people, that would make this the biggest prison in Europe, housing not criminals, but children, families, vulnerable people seeking safety. The Greek right wing government is doing something that haven’t been done in Europe since the 1940s, funded and blessed by the EU..

Locals on the Aegean islands is once again stabbed in the back by their own government. They don’t want their islands to become prison islands, they have fought against the government on this many times before. Locals don’t want new camps, they don’t want bigger camps and they don’t want closed camps. They want people on their islands to be transferred to mainland, asylum applications processed, so that people can go on with their lives, because locals are desperate to go on with theirs.

The Greek government has tried to create closed camps for over a year, but EU was not willing to back it up with funding. EU wouldn’t fund it due to the fact that it would be inhuman to put asylum seekers and refugees behind bars. Now it seems like the attitude from the EU has changed. How we can treat people, who comes to us for help, so disgracefully, is beyond my comprehension..

Europe is on a dangerous course, values that we once held high seems to have been forgotten..

Alarming Trends!

In the last two weeks, there has been an increase in bigger boats trying to cross from Turkey towards the Greek Aegean islands. These boats are usually old, in very bad condition, and can’t be seen as anything else than death traps.

A total of 450 people have tried to cross on 4 of these bigger boats in the last ten days.

August 25thA boat carrying 98 people went down outside Rhodes, 96 people rescued, 2 missing.

August 26thA boat carrying 145 people tried to cross towards Lesvos north, picked up by TCG outside Ayvacik.

September 2thA boat carrying 77 people tried to cross towards Lesvos south, picked up by TCG outside Karaburun.

September 3thA boat carrying 130 people tried to cross towards Chios, picked up by TCG outside Cesme.

The Smugler’s pack these boats with people, without any consideration on how many people these boats can carry. Usually they put children and women under deck, to protect them from the wetter, but the same people will be trapped inside the boat if the boat capsizes. Life jackets are usually not used, it would take up to much room in the boat, and Smugler’s won’t allow it.

We have seen boats like this go down in the past with catastrophic consequences, overload and in bad condition, it could capsize even under good weather conditions.

If this alarming trend continues, we will have a major disaster on our hands, again!

It’s not a question of if, but when..