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Another Documented Pushback!

On the morning of December 5th a boat carrying 31 people was in distress south east of Leros, this was posted about the incident that day on Aegean Boat Report:

“A boat carrying approximately 31 people is in distress south east of Leros. The boat has been drifting for at least 5 hours, and need immediate rescue. Port police on Leros has been informed, all necessary information have been given to initiate a rescue operation. There are many small children on the boat. Update : ABR have received information that they have managed to reach land, and are currently on the north tip of Kalymnos.”

Port police on Kalymnos was alerted, and witnesses on Leros observed boats from the Hellenic coast guard moving back and forth in the area. Nothing was reported to be found, officially. ABR had no further contact with the new arrivals that day.

Sunday morning a location and a voice message was sent to Aegean Boat Report, “ hello we are on the island of kalimnos please come and help us we have, we are very afraid we have no shelter even water” The location was up in the hills south west on Kalymnos, Again port police on Kalymnos was informed, and Aegean Boat Report did not have further contact that they, and the number have been disconnected since then.

Official registration on new arrivals show that only 3 people was registered on Kalymnos on Sunday December 6th, nothing the day before and nothing after, question is, where did the remaining 28 people go, if not found by Hellenic coast guard or police on Kalymnos?

The answer came yesterday, when Aegean Boat Report received three videos from a woman claiming to have been on the island of Kalymnos, but was returned to Turkey in a life raft, showing 1) over 30 people on land on Kalymnos, the location in the video matches the typography for the area where the initial location was received the day before, 2) people in a life raft and a vessel from Hellenic coast guard( identified as a Lambro-57 Panther Mk.I patrol boat belonging to the Hellenic Coast guard), 3) a video filmed inside the life raft, only women and children.

The video of the people that Aegean Boat Report received the day before of people in a rubber boat heading towards Kalymnos, matches the people in the videos on land on Kalymnos and in the life raft, there is no doubt that it’s the same people.

A testimony from one of the people from the landing on Kalymnos, now in Aydin, Turkey, describes what happened to them: “we walked for a very long time, it was very difficult, but some people found us and gave us bread, oranges and apples. After a while two other men came, and told us to give them papers and phones, we did, but not all of us, some managed to hide theirs. They said they would take us to camp, so we went with them, but they took us to a port, and put us in a gray and white Boat. Her they separated us, all men in the front, and all women and children in the back, outside. After a while they stopped and told us to go in to this orange strange boat, they took all women and children in two of these boats, the children was screaming, we was so afraid. I don’t know what happened, the men refused to go in to these boats, and the Greek boat left with the men onboard, 11 men. The boat they put us in lost air, but Turkish coast guard found us before it was to late, and took us to Aydin”

Report from Turkish coast guard:At 18.50 A fishing boat found 17 people, women and children, in a semi submerged life raft outside Didim, Turkey, none of them had life jackets. People onboard claimed that they had been placed there by the Greek coast guard.

Two days later, on December 8th at 21.00, 11 people, men, was picked up from two life rafts drifting outside Yalıkavak, Bodrum, also claiming to have been on the island of Kalymnos for several days.

It’s beyond any doubt that what is going on in the Aegean Sea is a crime against humanity, performed by the Hellenic coast guard, on orders from the Greek government. It’s proven without a doubt, in several investigations, that the Hellenic coast guard is behind these illegal pushbacks, but still the Greek government keeps denying any involvement in these atrocities. Why they decided to illegally deported all but 3 people from this landing is unknown, and can only be answered by the port police on Kalymnos.

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the Greek Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, has been denying any involvement in illegal deportation of asylum seekers on the Greek border, “The Hellenic 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, We fully abide by international and European law”. Mr. Mitsotakis say, when asked directly about these allegations, “It has not happened, we’ve been the victims of a significant misinformation campaign”, referring to articles and investigation in international press.

Aegean Boat Report has documented hundreds of illegal pushbacks since March, documenting and publishing such information has not gone unnoticed by the Greek government. In cooperation wit international press, information from Aegean Boat Report have made headlines all over Europe, highlighting the illegal activities of the Greek government. By doing so Aegean Boat Report became a victim of a deliberate misleading attack yesterday when the Greek minister of immigration and asylum, Notis Mitarachi, made false and unfounded accusations, in an attempt to discredit Aegean Boat Report.

As I have stated in the past, Aegean Boat Report will not be intimidated to keep quiet, like many other organizations has done, and will continue to reveal human rights violations in the Aegean Sea as long as it’s necessary!

Another Proven Pushback!

On Saturday November 28th, at 22.00, a boat carrying 18 people landed in Ag. Kratigou, Lesvos south. The new arrivals fled to the woods, hiding from the police in fear of being deported in the cover of darkness. Aegean Boat Report was informed, pictures, video and geo location data was collected as documentation on their arrival on Lesvos.

At the same time several other boats arrived in other locations on Lesvos.The arrivals was split into two groups, 16 people went up the hill in the dark, above the main road, two women stayed behind, hiding close to the road, they didn’t have the strength to go any further, one was reported to have leg injuries, the other pregnant. Both groups had contact with Aegean Boat Report throughout the night.

The following morning, November 29th, Aegean Boat Report advised them to go to the main road, to make their presence known to locals in the area, and they walked down towards Katia. The two women who had been hiding closest to the road arrived there first, around 12.30, and soon after a teacher from the local university and his wife found the two women, and asked if they needed help, he also called the police so that someone could come to their aid, as it seemed that they needed medical attention. The second group arrived in Katia, and was observed by many people in the area, walking on the road towards Mytilíni.

Port Police arrived 13.10 and stopped them from walking further towards Mytilíni at a small marina referred to as “Limanaki Kratigou” (little port of kratigos) by locals. The car registered to the port authority in Mytilíni, who arrived on scene was a Nissan Navara 2015, license plate ΛΣ 5906, and both the car and the port police officer was filmed. Also video from Witnesses standing on the pier in the marina confirms the location and presence of the car from port police at 13.23. Everyone was taken behind a small chapel, searched, their money, papers and phones was confiscated. According to testimony from the new arrivals, they where abused, verbally and physically, before being transported from the area in a dark blue/black van.

After a while they where transferred to a white bus, officers told them that they were being taken to a camp, this was not the case, instead they drove for what seemed to be several hours, and finally arrived at a port. From video material filmed from inside the bus, one of the new arrivals managed to hid his phone, the port is identified as the Schengen port in Petra, Lesvos north. Also in the video material from Petra port, we can see another car, a Nissan Terrano ll 2001 modelwho, registered to the port police in Mólivos, license plate ΛΣ 3804. A local witness in Petra confirms that he observed a white bus escorted by a car from the port police driving down to Petra port in the afternoon of November 29th.

They where held in the bus in Petra port for hours, no food or water was provided. After dark, around 19.00 they where taken out of the bus, sprayed with water, and taken onboard a coast guard vessel soaking wet. They where placed on the deck, in the front on the vessel, outside, and told that they would freeze to death. Other people also arrived on the boat, 13 people from a different group, was placed in the back on the vessel. The vessel involved is identified from video material as a Vosper Europatrol 250 MK1 class offshore patrol vessel of the Hellenic coast guard visual ID number ΛΣ 050, currently stationed in Petra, Lesvos north.

What time they headed out is unknown, it was sometime after 19.00, and it was dark. People from the boat said the trip took several hours, and when they stopped they where forced into what they describe as small orange tent, and left drifting helpless in the dark. Luckily they had managed to hide one phone, and they called 158, the emergency number to the Turkish coast guard. After several hours they where rescued and taken to Çanakkale, Turkey.

Information from the Turkish coast guard, 13 people was found drifting in a life raft outside Kadirga cape, Ayvacik 02.40 on November 30th. Another group of 18 people was found drifting in the same day in the same area 05.00 also in a life raft. Pictures published of the people rescued by the Turkish coast guard, confirm that it is the same people who Aegean Boat Report received pictures and videos of on Lesvos the day before, it is without a doubt the same people.

It’s beyond any doubt that what is going on in the Aegean Sea is a crime against humanity, performed by the Hellenic coast guard, on orders from the Greek government. It’s proven without a doubt, in several investigations, that the Hellenic coast guard is behind these illegal pushbacks, but still the Greek government keeps denying any involvement in these atrocities.

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the Greek Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, has been denying any involvement in illegal deportation of asylum seekers on the Greek border, “The Hellenic 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, We fully abide by international and European law”. Mr. Mitsotakis say, when asked directly about these allegations, “It has not happened, we’ve been the victims of a significant misinformation campaign”, referring to articles and investigation in international press.

In September the Greek shipping minister, Giannis Plakiotakis, blows the “whistle”, most likely by mistake, bragging about their achievement, “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 government is determined to prevent anyone to reach Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution. No measures have so far been taken by the EU to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even do they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.

Push-backs are happening every single day in the Aegean Sea, and Greece will continue practicing illegal pushbacks on an industrial scale, putting families and children in inflatable life rafts, drifting in the Aegean Sea, in direct violation of international laws and human, until Europe once again decides to put human rights back on the agenda. So far this year 296 pushback cases have been registered by Aegean Boat Report, involving 9012 people. 89 of these cases was performed by using life rafts (rescue equipment), 2753 people have so far been placed in a total of 163 life rafts, and left drifting by the Hellenic coast guard.

Following orders is for the officers involved not an excuse, they know they are committing a crime, and should be punished accordingly. All evidence obtained by Aegean Boat Report will be made available for those who want to file charges against the Hellenic coast guard, the Greek government or the officers involved. At some point we need to make a stand, we can no longer tolerate crimes against humanity performed on European soil, we once said “never again”, let’s honor that promise!

We are astonished to have been the focus of an unprovoked and deliberately misleading attack on our organisation.

Aegean Boat Report, in common with all aid organisations working to help the Greek government and the EU with the refugee response in Greece, strongly opposes people smuggling between Turkey and Greece.

We are not, never have been and never will be part of any smuggling network and we do not work, have never worked, and will never work with any person or people smuggling people on any route, in any part of the world.

We operate a public service, accessible to all, which locates men, women and children who arrive on the Greek islands, in part because the Greek government consistently fails to perform this basic function.

Once they are located, we ensure that they are taken to camps where they can enter the proper legal processes.

We are forced to do this because the men, women and children travelling to the EU are well aware by now that the Greek government practices illegal pushbacks, and if we did not help to ensure that they were found, they would attempt to stay in hiding on arrival. This would be the worst of all possible outcomes for every person including the citizens of Greece and wider EU.

We do not deliver aid to those people, though the Minister should be pleased that some organisations do this, because without their work, the failures of his own Ministry would have caused hundreds more deaths than have taken place so far, and seen many men, women and children wandering Lesvos and other Eastern Aegean islands searching for shelter.

We must request the Minister ceases his baseless allegations, and advise him that if he wishes to allege we have acted illegally or improperly he must produce something more than a small number of refugees saying that smugglers in Turkey know the name ‘Aegean Boat Report’ and  tell them if they attempt to contact us they will be given dry clothing and a bottle of water.

We have broken no law, we do not work with anyone who does, and it is inexplicable that a Minister of the Greek government would seek to launch such a wild attack on a small organisation trying to ensure that people forced by Greek and EU policy to take dangerous journeys presided over by criminals do not die and are not lost to the system.

Far from Aegean Boat Report and other NGOs, the major factor assisting smugglers and ensuring they profit from the suffering of refugees is the Greek government and EU’s refusal to provide safe routes for people to travel and apply for asylum, which is their legal right.

None of the people arriving on the Greek islands are ‘illegal immigrants’. They are asylum seekers exercising their fundamental human rights.

The Greek state may of course decide whether to grant asylum to Somalians, whose country is a failed state and which has been in a state of war for more than 30 years.

And we hope the Greek government will in fact focus its attention on that decision, instead of continuing its ill-researched and misleading attacks on aid organisations working to help people survive, and help the Greek state.

In this way, we believe it and the EU will be able to respond to the situation on its borders in a manner befitting civilised actors in the modern world.

‘here is how we interact with new arrivals into Greece’

I Will Continue As Long As It’s Possible, But I Really Could Need Your Support!

To fundraise in these difficult times isn’t the easiest thing I have done, especially since the Aegean Boat Report don’t provide aid like food, clothes, medical, and hygiene, but only information.

Aegean Boat Report have provided free information for everyone to use for many years, documenting the ongoing situation in the Aegean Sea, in a time when verified Information is increasingly difficult to come by. Continuously trying to put the spotlight on how people have been treated, abuse and violations by government’s, have made headlines, not only in Europe but also internationally.

By operating as a “watchdog”, a “whistler”, openly criticizing and revealing violations done towards vulnerable people, especially by the Greek government, haven’t made me many friends, threats towards me and my family isn’t unusual. There has been many attempts to try to silence me, from right wing extremists groups but also from the Greek government. The attempt to criminals and discredit people and organizations that openly criticize the Greek government violations of international laws and human rights is common, to target what I do by saying it’s propaganda, I’m an enemy of the state, human trafficker working with the mafia and a Turkish spy is frequently used in the Greek press.

Information provided by Aegean Boat Report is used by volunteers, organizations, researchers and journalists, many actually benefit from the work that is published on a daily basis, also financially. For any organization media attention towards the area they work in would be beneficiary, and lead to more volunteers and funding. When an organization, who has tirelessly worked to provide more media attention, ask for support, I’m often faced with the question “ why do you ask for funding, you just gather information, you don’t do anything on the ground, you don’t help anyone”, it’s just frustrating, especially when coming from people who actually benefits from the work you do.

Everything is great, everyone is happy because they can freely use the fruits of your labor, until the time you ask for help, then they take a step back, turn around and walks away. Some even starts to ask questions on your motives to fundraise, if you are in this form the money.. if anyone had known the effort that has been put in to this over the years, the sacrifices, they would be shocked. Yes, even do everything I provided is free of charge, what I do actually costs money, any organization need funds to be able to work, just not Aegean Boat Report because it basically don’t do anything.. As I mentioned previously, it’s just frustrating..

What Aegean Boat Report stand for and what it dose is extremely well documented, not only on social media platforms like Facebook but also in the international press. To question my dedication and motives actually offends me, and I take it very personal! Anyone working in this field knows what it takes to stand in this over time, the sacrifices made, the dedication is many times difficult to carry.

I’m truly sorry that I can’t do everything on my own without asking for help, and that I need to to provide for my family. I’m sorry that I try to fundraise to keep this organization going, when so many other organizations actually needs the money more than I do, because they do, no question about it! I’m not rich, I work hard to be able to put food on the table, as everyone else, and if I’m faced with the option to continue and not be able to provide for my family, I would close down ABR in a heartbeat, because family always comes first in my book.

To support my work with the Aegean Boat Report please use the link below, and for those of you who have supported me, I’m truly grateful, thank you!

I will continue as long as it’s possible, but I really could need your support!

https://www.facebook.com/donate/1017770735407213/?fundraiser_source=external_url

It’s Not About Us, Or Is It..

A little boy, age 6, drowned on the shores of Samos, when he and his father tried to reach safety in Europe. Today the 25 year old father was arrested on suspicion of endangering a person’s life that lead to death, a crime that could carry a penalty, if found guilty, of up to 10 years in prison.

What happened on Samos on Saturday night is a tragedy not only for his family, but also for Europe. We let yet another child drown on our watch while we are occupied building walls and barbed wire fences, to keep everyone who “don’t belong her” out.. at what point did we start to turn our backs towards families, children asking for help, what made us this cold..

It’s outrageous that a grieving father is being punished for trying to seek safety for himself and his child, we would have done the same if we had walked in their shoes, but this doesn’t concern us dose it, it’s not our “kind”, so we just look the other way and move on as if nothing has happened, it’s not about us, or is it..

The screams of desperation and horror in the night is difficult to describe, if you haven’t hear it yourself, I have, not only this time but many times before, when I close my eyes at night I still hear them, I can live with that, because it’s not about me, it’s about “them”.. “them” is not my family, it’s nobody I know or even anyone I have ever seen before, so why would I care, it’s not “us”, it’s only “them” right..

Europe have for a long time tried to criminalize rescue workers and organizations who’s only goal is to help people seeking protection in Europe, now we are also criminalizing the people who are seeking safety..

What more can we take from these people, who have lost so much already, and still call ourselves humans..

It Was A Chaotic But Beautiful Symphony, Dysfunctional At Times, But Nevertheless Beautiful

Has the international volunteers, grass-root organizations and NGOs still a positive impact on the refugee crisis in Greece, ore have they played out their part as a independent neutral force who was driven by humanitarian values where money, politics and self preservation wasn’t the main objective.

In 2015 when the refugee crisis hit Greece, and the biggest mass movement of people in Europe since the Second World War started, thousands of volunteers traveled to the Greek islands to help as hundreds of thousands of people landed on the shores of the Greek Aegean islands, fleeing war and persecution. The job these volunteers did was unprecedented, driven by humanitarian values, a pronounced desire to help, it’s the most unselfish act I have ever witnessed. It was a chaotic but beautiful symphony, dysfunctional at times, but nevertheless beautiful, because it was driven by a genuine desire to help.

From the peak of the refugee crisis, literally hundreds of grass-root organizations and NGOs was formed, many of the organizations operating on the Greek islands today was borne at this time. In any crisis there will be people who are trying to take advantage of the situation, who are hiding behind a humanitarian pretext to benefit financially, but most organizations had genuine goal to help as many as possible, both refugees and locals. Volunteers from all over the world, from all walks of life, came to Greece to help as best they could.

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To coordinate humanitarian aid in a very chaotic situation, with hundreds of organizations with their own agendas and thousands of volunteers wasn’t without challenges. There was often disputes between organizations on how to do things, who should do what when and where. Rivalry between organizations on who was in charge and who should decide was a constant issue, many times overclouding the very reason they where there in the first place. There where even disputes over who had the right to help refugees when they arrived, and we often heard organizations use the phrase “our refugee” as if people who arrived was someone’s property.

To get information was many times also a problem, organizations used information to fundraise on social media, and was not willing to share information they had to others, it was referred to by some organizations as their “media potential”, and was one of the main reasons Aegean Boat Report was founded. I believe all information should be available and free for everyone to use, and not a privilege of a few. Information was crucial on the ground to be able to take good decisions, get a better understanding on what was going on at any given time.

Don’t take me wrong, volunteers and grass-root organizations did an amazing job, and some still do! Their efforts was essential, filled gaps between what was provided by the government and the actual need on the ground. In the beginning Greece would literally have collapsed, if it hadn’t been for the volunteers, Greece was not prepared for what happened and had no possibility to handle the situation on their own. Looking back it’s perhaps easy to criticize, but many mistakes was also made by these organizations, some more damaging than others.

What many organizations and volunteers forgot, was that they were not in their own country, and many decisions made had direct impact on the locals and local communities. Some organizations operated as if they owned the place, and in many cases didn’t consult the local president or involve locals in the decision making process, structures was built on privat land without permission from the owner, and at some point many locals got frustrated, they felt left out, that they had no say in their own communities. The lack of local involvement within the NGOs operating in the communities was perhaps their biggest mistake, the same mistake seems to be made even today.

The tourist industry in Greece was already on their knees long before the refugee crisis peaked, the financial crisis in Greece that started in 2009 had seen to that. When volunteers started to flood towards the Greek Aegean islands in late 2015, the industry in the effected areas got a upswing, hotels, rental car services, restaurants, nightclubs, supermarkets and privat accommodations was in high demand, unfortunately it didn’t last long. When the international press turned off the spotlight, less volunteers came, and when tourists didn’t travel to the Greek Aegean islands in the following summer, bankruptcy and unemployment was inevitable. Many locals lost their jobs, putting food on the table became difficult, people lost their houses and businesses. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs was still packed, not with locals but with international volunteers, this didn’t go unnoticed by locals, and the impression that NGOs spent funds on drinking and partying was created.

This impression was not correct, but nevertheless it damaged the reputation of international grass-root organizations and NGOs, and a general mistrust grew. It became a general perception amongst many locals that these organizations used money intended for aid on themselves, even do these volunteers only used their own hard earned money. Yes there was and still are exemptions, as previously stated, some use a humanitarian pretext to make money to enrich themselves, but this is the exception not the rule.

Skala Sikaminias

The lack of local involvement in the international grass-root organizations and NGOs operating on the islands are still a problem, without this involvement it’s difficult to build bridges and to remove a many times unjustified impression. Instead of paying salaries, rental cars, food and accommodation to international long therm volunteers and coordinators, they could have hired local staff, but perhaps the problem is that mistrust goes both ways, or that international volunteers brings in more funding, social media attention and prestige to the individual organizations. Question is, is the preservation of the organization itself, fat bank account’s, high salaries to their Secretary-Generals and prestige more important than their humanitarian objective, and have they lost their founding vision.

Many of the organizations that was created in the brink of the refugee crisis doesn’t exist anymore, but back in 2015/2016 you could literally find a organization for everything. Several of these organizations are still working on the Greek islands, some still doing an amazing job, while others are raising huge amounts of money by pretending to be involved, when in fact they are doing little to nothing on the ground, floating on their good name and reputation in their home country, filling their bank account from trusting donors. Organizations that has lost track of why they where created in the first place, becoming what they once despised, is dragging the names of good organizations down in the mud, not realizing that they no longer are a part of the solution but a part of the problem.

To be working on the ground today in Greece isn’t easy, neither for volunteers or grass-root organizations, anyone saying otherwise is lying. Volunteers are from time to time targeted by right wing elements, people who don’t want them to help refugees, smashing and burning their cars, beatings and treats. Police is also active, doing their bit to make sure they don’t feel welcome, searching cars, going through their phones looking for incriminating data, ordering people who have done nothing wrong from any public area, just because they feel like it, and that they can just to prove who is in charge.

Organizations also needs to stay in line, one step in the wrong direction and they can be denied access to the camps, any criticism towards the Greek government can automatically result in being denied access, or your project outside the camp suddenly face unannounced inspections that would definitely close the project for good. So organizations and NGOs on the ground mostly remain silent, no matter how difficult the situation is, no criticism is published in fear of being kicked out, in this they are failing the people they should be protecting, people who are suffering every day under inhuman conditions in camps on the Greek islands. Any organization who are denied access to the camp will most likely lose funding, it’s so much easier to ask for money when they are inside, no matter how little they actually do while there. It’s possible for the organization to support and work from outside the camp, but the prestige and funding opportunities are much higher if you are allowed inside, so for some this is a matter of money, and not the humanitarian aspect.

Most grass-root organizations and NGOs still use international volunteers as their main workforce, even do the camps are filled with skilled educated people who are more than capable of doing whatever is needed to improve their own situation. To empower the people who are living in these camps, should have been done a long time ago, in a much bigger scale than what is done today. Sitting around for months and years just waiting, doing nothing, would be devastating for anyone, to be able to occupy your time with something meaningful, feel useful, wanted and necessary would have a positive effect on people’s mental health. So why are hundreds of international volunteers working inside and outside the camps when there are thousands of educated people living there, who are very capable of taking car of themselves, who could have worked to improve their own situation.

Are the NGOs still needed, I would say definitely yes, but I believe that how help and assistance is provided from these organizations can be challenged. If more organizations could put self empowerment higher on there agendas, and use the resources that are already there, instead of international volunteers, they could make a bigger impact on the situation and on the people’s mental health. When it comes to the extensive use of international volunteers as we see today, perhaps it’s time to look at things differently. It’s definitely a “exotic” experience for volunteers to come and participate, it puts things in perspective, but is it in the best interest of the people they are supposed to help. To have short term volunteers, untrained, unskilled trying to help traumatized people living under inhuman conditions isn’t perhaps the ultimate solution. Don’t get me wrong, voluntariness is a beautiful and unselfish act, but there will always be a time and place for everything.

Grass-root organizations who has openly criticized the Greek government’s violations of international laws and human rights, published evidence and assisted international press, has lately been targeted by the Greek government in a broader scale than previously, in an attempt to silence them. Criminal charges against NGOs and volunteers isn’t new in Greece, and recently the Greek government opened a felony case file against 33 members of four NGOs and two “third country nationals” on suspicion of crimes including espionage, violation of state secrets, creation of and participation in a criminal organization and violations of the migration law. Neither the names of the NGOs nor the nationalities of those involved were made public. In addition there other organizations are also of interest, and similar charges can be expected to be raised against them as well. Who these organizations and people are is somewhat unclear, but what we can see is that’s it’s most likely organization’s who has criticized the Greek government over a longer period of time. To try to criminalize these “watchdogs” can be seen as a attempt to discredit them, so that their message is discarded as fake news or propaganda.

Another Rainy Day..

Yesterday the new camp in Kara Tepe, Lesvos, was again hit with heavy rain, and as predicted, it again flooded many areas of the camp. What little people had got soaking wet, mud water mixed with sewage entered the tents, who mostly is raised straight on the ground, some even without flooring. What you see is the result of a few hours of rain, what it will be like when winter really sets in, well you can imagine..

After the previous rainfall five days ago, the Greek government promised to take swift action to fix issues of flooding, so that it wouldn’t happen again. If anything was done, it seemed to have had no effect, yesterday the camp was flooded again.

It’s not as this should come as a big surprise to anyone, the forecast was quite clear, and we all knew this would happen. The area is known to be flooded when the rain starts, and there isn’t put in sufficient drainage to handle the water that will poor down in the coming months. Most of the tents are put directly on the ground, without gravel or pallets, many without any flooring at all.

I wonder what UNHCR and the Red Cross was thinking when they put up summer tents in this area, with no flooring, no insulation and no possibility for heating. This camp is down by the sea, they will have no protection from the elements, people will literally freeze to death when winter rely sets in.

It’s not like UNHCR don’t have the money to provide proper housing for the many thousands who live in this camp, but it seems like they are playing ball with the Greek government, supporting the Politics of the right wing party New Democracy, where the main goal is to make life in camps in Greece as inhuman as humanly possible. What we see today in the new camp on Lesvos is a perfect example on what happens when head of UNHCR in Greece, Philippe Leclerc, “goes to bed” with the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, from New Democracy.

After a month people in the camp still don’t have running water, no showers, insufficient electricity, no drainage, no sewage system, insufficient housing, insufficient food supply, insufficient medical care, the list just goes on. With the tremendous amount of money that has been pored in to Greece, it’s obvious that the money doesn’t end up where it should, someone is “eating the pie”, leaving only the crumbs to vulnerable people in the Greek camps.

We Should Be Very Careful About What We Wish For!

Over the last five years there has been many articles written about the refugee crisis, the suffering of people fleeing war, inhuman living conditions, human rights violations, the abuse of power and a political game played on the backs of vulnerable people. Europe seems not capable, or not willing, to act in accordance to its own laws and regulations, laws that was made while Europe was still in ruins, we seems to have forgotten the words “ never again”, or at least the meaning of them.

The biggest mass movement of people in Europe since the Second World War, and we started to build fences, camps surrounded by barbed wire, where we let children, women and men live under inhuman conditions, neglected by the outside world, the lack of basic needs are extreme, but we don’t seem to care, and we starts to defend the politics that put them there in the first place. We starts to refer to “them” as numbers, statistics, percentage, we divide them into the once we want, and the once we don’t want, based on the geographical location where they where born, their religion, skin color and gender. We dehumanize people, we strip them off all their rights as humans, and we forget that we once said “never again”..

We all seems to be having some kind of amnesia, we have put the same kind of people to rule today’s Europe, that we fought 80 years ago to get rid of. Deep down we all knows what is going on, but for some reason most people choose to look the other way, as long as our way of life isn’t at risk, we won’t rock the boat, hopefully it all will magically go away. What we don’t realize is that one day they might come for us as well, your neighbor, your friends, your family. One day perhaps your life is put in a box that says “unwanted”, by then it would be to late to act. We should be very careful about what we wish for, the violations of human rights and international laws are not “their” problem, it’s also ours, it will eventually effect all of us.

We have all seen pictures from the inhuman camps in Greece, but it seems it’s not enough to make us act, because it’s not personal, it’s just some people, degraded in to numbers and statistics. We don’t realize that they are really people, no different from us, with feelings, dreams for the future, hopes, the need to feel wanted, that they have a value. A mother in the new camp on Lesvos said that she was glad that they moved most unaccompanied minors to the mainland, but we mustn’t forget that there are thousands of children left in this inhuman camp. She said that the only way she could help her own children was to commit suicide, perhaps then they would have a chance of a life in freedom, try to step into her shoes..

Perhaps we should take a closer look on the people living in this camp, get down an personal, perhaps then we will realize that they are just like us, they could easily be our family, friends, neighbor or work college.

The Almousa family of 8 people are from Syria, and lives in a tent in the middle of the new camp in Kara Tepe, six children from the age of 2 to 10 years old. Can you imagine having to live on seven square feet, in a summer tent, without flooring, insulation or heating with your six children, watching them freeze every night. They get some food once a day, but not hardly enough to feed the family, they haven’t had a shower for the last 4 weeks, because there is no running water in the camp. Whenever it rains, mud water are flooding the tent, soaking what little they have, because the tents are put directly on the ground, without pallets or gravel underneath. The is no drainage in the camp, sewage mixes with the rain water contaminates anything that comes in contact with it. And this is the best Europe could offer, blessed by the UNHCR.

Is this an “upgrade” from Moria, I would say quite the opposite, it’s a yet another attempt to treat people seeking protection and refuge in Europe inn the most despicable way, without any concern of their best interest, it’s “Moria the sequel”, a hell in the making, and we just let it happen, again..

The pictures are shared with the approval of the Almosa family, they still live in the worst refugee camp in Europe, these children are suffering because we decided to look the other way..

Is this personal enough to make you care, I doubt it, perhaps when children are freezing to death in this camp you will care, or perhaps not..

What have we become..

Pictures by Yousif Alshewaili

Yet Another Pushback..

Yesterday 07.30 a boat carrying approximately 24 people was pushed back by Greek Coast Guard east of Chios.People onboard contacted Aegean Boat Report, in a desperate attempt to get help, but it was to late.

A Greek coast guard vessel from Chios arrived and picked up the people from the rubber dingy. They where later pushed in to two life rafts, and left drifting, helpless in the sea.

From the pictures and videos they sent to Aegean Boat Report before their phones was taken, we can clearly see the patrol boat from the Greek coast guard, and even the people onboard the boat. There is no doubt who did this to them, another illegal pushback, ordered by the Greek government.

I can’t understand how this can be allowed to continue, the documentation on these violations of international laws and human rights is overwhelming, yet nothing is done. FRONTEX and NATO is watching, doing absolutely nothing to stop this, it’s outrageous!

The faces of the victims have been covered, as I normally do to protect their privacy, but the perpetrators I feel no responsibility for, they are criminals and needs to be stopped. If you recognize this man from the HCG vessel, feel free to report him to the nearest police authority!

A Few Hours Of Rain Was All It Took..

Today the new camp in Kara Tepe, Lesvos, was hit with heavy rain, and as predicted, it flooded many areas of the camp. What little people had got soaking wet, mud water entered the tents, who mostly is raised straight on the ground, some even without flooring. What you see is the result of a few hours of rain, what it will be like when winter really sets in, well you can imagine..

It’s not as this should come as a big surprise to anyone, we all knew this would happen when it started to rain. The area is known to be flooded when the rain starts, and there isn’t put in sufficient drainage to handle the water that will poor down in the coming months. Most of the tents are put directly on the ground, without gravel or pallets, many without any flooring at all.

We have seen government officials bragging about their achievements, putting up this camp in a week. Anyone can put up a camp that looks good on a sunny day, to make it work when the shit really hits the fan, is a totally different ballgame, and this camp failed miserably just after a few hours of rain.

As I have said previously, this camp perhaps looks ok from a distance, but after getting down to the ground, the reality is quite a different story. First this camp is built at the sea front, when winter is coming they will literally freeze to death, and if the cold doesn’t kill them, they will probably drown in mud, or from the polluted ground these tents are built on.

The head of UNHCR on Lesvos, Astrid Castelein, said when asked about the relocation of people in to this new camp, “As long as it’s peaceful, we believe it’s a good move, her on the street it’s a risk for security, for public health, and there is no dignity which we need for everyone”. I wonder what side the UNHCR is really on, when talking about security and dignity, she definitely can’t be referring to the people inside the camp, behind fences and barbed wire, living in the mud on polluted grounds, so who are they really protecting?

There are many organizations working inside this camp, trying to improve a hopeless situation. I’m wondering why these organizations haven’t spoken up on behalf of these vulnerable people, why these organizations stays quiet when there are obviously so many issues with this camp that should have been addressed. When looking through their pages on social media, there is no criticism towards the Greek government, I find it a bit strange.. To look the other way when injustice is done, to keep quiet when people are suffering, dose that make them a part of the solution or a part of the problem..

Is this an “upgrade” from Moria, I would say quite the opposite, it’s a yet another attempt to treat people seeking protection and refuge in Europe inn the most despicable way, without any concern of their best interest, it’s “Moria the sequel”, a hell in the making, and we just let it happen, again..

To see families, children, live under these conditions in Europe in 2020, blessed by the UNHCR, leaves a really bad taste in my mouth, who are they really there to protect..