Let’s treat people like people: Bare Life on Lesvos for refugees

Lesvos Solidarity report on the inhumane, insanitary, freezing conditions which asylum seekers in the new Kara Tepe camp (often called Moria 2.0) have to endure. Change must come. There can be no more Morias. No more camps.

Last week, the first week of February 2021, the European Commission gave an update on the situation in the Greek islands and briefed the European Parliament about the new camp that will be constructed in Lesvos, to be ready by September.

Beate Gminder of the European Commission has spent time in Lesvos and Samos and has seen the conditions in the camps. But when you follow the shiny power point presentation – full of sterile data and carefully selected pictures – the Commission presents a totally different reality, which is very far from the truth.
It is unacceptable to talk about “improvements” made in Moria 2.0, and at the same time admit that winterisation – preparation for winters – is delayed. We are in the middle of winter. And yes, it does get cold in the Aegean. It has been snowing, it has been raining heavily. Women, men and children are living in tents, in the mud. As this Dunya Collective film shows, conditions are dire. It should not be up for debate that this situation is unacceptable and outrageous, 5 months after the Moria fires and after so much money has been spent in Moria 2.0.

Bare life in winter at Moria 2.0

It is unacceptable to talk about improvements in the asylum system, with accelerated procedures, while the reality is that the right to asylum is undermined on a daily basis and people cannot exercise their right to a quality asylum procedure.

We are grateful to the Members of Parliaments who took the chance to challenge the European Commission on the unacceptable situation in the camps for thousands of men, women and children. And to the Greek Refugee Council who brought everybody back to the essence with the stories of people who suffer every day as a consequence of Europe’s damaging policies. 

We can only conclude, once again, that it is intentional to put people in these miserable conditions. It is a conscious political choice by the Greek authorities and the European Union. As it has been a conscious choice to rush and build Moria 2.0 on a former shooting range (Kara Tepe) fully aware of concerns around lead poisoning, which have now been confirmed.

The new proposed camp that should be finished by September will just be more of the same, and worse: more containment, set in a remote location, ongoing lack of transparency and access. An ongoing attack on people’s rights and dignity. 

No more camps! Image Courtesy of Afbeelding Rosa Snijders

Whatever rosy picture the European Commission paints, whatever fancy name is given to these new “multipurpose state-of-the-art reception centres”, we all know what the reality will look like. We are simply looking at Moria 3.0.
We can only keep repeating: no more camps, no more Morias. European governments must put an end to these policies that are designed to make life as unbearable as possible for people who arrive at our borders. European governments must stop and condemn the ongoing violence inflicted on people at our borders. And under Covid we must care for all.

Let’s treat people like people. It’s really not that complicated.

January 2021

Blog and image courtesy of our friends and collaborators Lesvos Solidarity


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