Opinions of SU Peiraias’ participants AFTER the visit at the Kara Tepe Camp

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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Manolo (AEGEE Madrid) proposed this “Reflection Time” after the visits at the Kara Tepe camp.

Manolo (AEGEE Madrid) called all of us to discuss in a collective moment all together, sitting in a circle, after the night party we had on the last night we have been in Kara Tepe.

Basically, (almost) everybody had a beer and every person could have received a “cheer” of approval or not after anybody’s speech.

VICKY (Organizer, AEGEE-Peiraias): “The moments we passed in Camp Moria, were not that good, but the moments we had in Kara Tepewere okay, since I found this little girl, which was awesome. I have a lot of crushes on kids”

JULIO (AEGEE-Alicante): “When I arrived, I was shocked to see the fences and generally terrified of what I saw in Camp Moria.

Then, what I saw instead in Kara Tepe was nicer and I loved that environment.

I found sad what I heard from the stories of the people I talked with. The kids need a proper childhood, education like it happens for all the children in Europe today”

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Eva (organizer, AEGEE Peiraias), Marcos (AEGEE A Coruña), Skander (AEGEE Leiden) and Ilias (organizer, AEGEE Peiraias)

MARCOS (AEGEE-A Coruna): “The real tough life of the camps, unfortunately, is in Moria and not in Kara Tepe. It actually looks from outside as a prison.

The experience in Kara Tepe was nice, but despite I don’t want to be pessimistic, the real experience the most of refugees are living is the one almost 4000 people are experiencing in Camp Moria.

We don’t have to stop with this SU, with this initiative, because the people we met want their stories to be shared and to make them feel useful. If not, they will feel not okay, and they will start think about their troubled past”

SKANDER (AEGEE-Leiden): “I was really surprised after the documentaries and things I saw. It was pretty inspiring to see the camp, despite that they don’t know their futures, they all looked hopeful and the fact that I saw lots of united families, is hopeful too.

They need something else to overcome this period without real education or work”

JOSINE (AEGEE-Groningen): “I was a little bit worried at first about what we were supposed to do there and due to the fact of seeing us as strangers. The camp is okay, but their life is not okay, they don’t know about their real chances.

Being nice with them for those moments makes me want to go back to my country and start doing activities, but it also makes me feel bad about their situation”.

ILIAS (Organizer, AEGEE-Peiraias): What we experienced in the camp, the situation, was better than what I saw in the media, and that’s probably what made us empathized more. I spoke with local people here in Lesvos, and with respect to the 2015 Summer, they think the situation improved a lot.

Most of the refugees in here who come, had money, were part of the medium/high wealthy part of the population.

I hope this experience will help me change my attitude towards them and that I can start helping them and donate.

CARMINE (AEGEE-Salerno): Due to media in my country, I have a distorted image of what we saw in these 2 days. It is different with respect to the experience I personally had in the other camp I volunteered in.

ALIENOR (AEGEE-Brussels, CEWG, MIGR): We’ve just seen one camp and the one we saw was the “Disneyland” of those. I hope that what I saw will be just not so different from all of the others.

I was surprised however, to see kids bullying other kids, instead of sticking together and playing.

This thing stroked me a little, and maybe this whole bullying phenomenon was caused by cultural differences among kids.

But the party instead taught me that differences can be overcome, if you rely more on education”

Manolo then stopped the conversation and asked the participants what can they do as European Active Citizens towards them.

 

LUCA (AEGEE-Brescia, MIGR Coordinator): “I think that intervening, even just a little, can make lots of difference. No matter where, in the AEGEE network, by volunteering, keeping their side in discussion and public debates, demonstrate, volunteer, donate.

Especially try to think that in AEGEE not all of us are so supportive of migrants in general.

What we can do is huge by little step. Intervening and working for them, to ensure help in any form, is what we are supposed to do.

I hope as AEGEEans and active citizens, we can intervene somehow to improve their lives. I hope AEGEE instead, keeps lobbying for their human rights too”.

SANNE (AEGEE-Maastricht): The role in this situation made me realize that we can intervene not just buy donating and volunteering. We can make a difference among the 20-35 years old people, in how we participate in debates, in how we got involved in things like this.

There are not so much activities and I rather suggest you, even despite it could be hard, to do something.

All the people we met today allowed us to get a sneak peak of their lives, don’t forget it”

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Evgenya (AEGEE Dnipro), Mara (Organizer, AEGEE Peiraias), Nadeshda (AEGEE Passau), Julio (AEGEE Alicante), Javier (AEGEE Zaragoza)

JULIO (AEGEE-Alicante): “Making people smile gave me lots of energy and strength, and we can do a lot, starting from raising awareness about their conditions”.

NADESHDA (AEGEE-Passau) [Adding to Sanne]: “We can act locally in our communities to help the refugees integrate and to give them a chance to integrate. They want to learn, they want to be part of our society.

This kind of attitude can be good for both refugees and for locals.

AEGEE can help as we can cooperate with them and with NGO’s working with them.

They don’t need to stay in a camp, they need to be approved”

ILIAS (Organizer, AEGEE-Peiraias): “Raising awareness, donating, participating at actions promoted by NGOs or UNHCR”

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Josine (AEGEE Groningen), Aliénor (AEGEE Brussels/CEWG/MIGR), Balazs (AEGEE Budapest), Aïcha (AEGEE Utrecht), Cristina (AEGEE Castello) and Sanne (AEGEE Maastricht)

BALAZS (AEGEE-Budapest) [Adding to Aliénor]: “The circumstances for having seen those bullying scene might not be that much reliable. It depends on a series of things we don’t know that much”.

[Adding to Sanne]: “my expectations before entering in the camps were to see how the camp worked and the whole situation.

After having seen what I saw, I can tell you that I will contribute by telling everybody about my story and how I was feeling while staying in there”

STEFANIA (AEGEE-Budapest): “I just want to add that despite seeing – she counted – 16 NGO’s in the camp, the situation is not so professional and still there are lots of issues that are not handled”.

 

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Hassan’s story

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

Hassan did not authorized to take any picture to him.

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Well, you see this picture of this party at the Open Theatre of Kara Tepe?
Well, Hassan was the DJ of this.

He’s an Iraqi 18 years old guy, from Baghdad.

He arrived in Kara Tepe 1 month before our visit (end of June 2016).

He left Iraq because live there was miserable, dangerous and bombings were everywhere.

He wants to reach The Netherlands, because he has lots of friends in The Netherlands and because of the Dutch volunteers of the NGO “Because We Carey”.

He was a student at his first year of University back in Iraq and he left his family there, despite they did not want him to go.

Moreover, he said that “his family does not have any particular economic problem”.

He feels comfortable in Kara Tepe, he feels like at home.

He did not apply yet for an asylum.

His trip was “great” according to him.

He took a flight from Baghdad to Istanbul, then for 2 days he hitchhiked to get close to the Lesvos’ island.

Once he was there, he paid a smuggler and he was on a dinghy, with a life jacket, unable to swim.

 

Meysun and Mohammed’s stories

 

(Interview made by Aliénor Pirlet – MIGR member and SU Participant, written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and SU Participant)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
We had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

Meysun and Mohamed asked us to be not photographed.

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A picture of Aliénor (AEGEE Brussels/CEWG/MIGR) playing with children of the camp.

A married couple, they both come from Syria.

They offered us a visit and Meysun showed us pictures of her children’s drawings from her smartphone.

They took 7 hours of walking to escape from Syria (the place they were) to Turkey. Now with the new deal EU-Turkey, nobody can legally reach Turkey.

Finding a smuggler for them wasn’t a big deal, actually it was really easy, but smugglers cost a lot, especially for a whole family: 600€ per 1 adult or 2 children.

They have been offered a 1800€ deal to allow them to cross the FYROM border with Greece. They did not have any more money, so they declined, otherwise they would have accepted the money.

In fact, in Antakya, the Turkish police confiscated all their money.

Meysun’s story

Meysun has been in the camp for 4 months now (since the end of March).

She has 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy (respectively 8,6,4 and 2 years old).

She arrived to Kara Tepe with her brother in law and they arrived in a small boat with 81 other people, after a 1,5 hours trip. They all survived the trip.

Among those 81 people, all of them were displaced in Greek camps. Just the majority of Syrians remained in the camp, with the exception of two families who were displaced to Athens.

Meysun will have an interview on Friday August 5th, 2016 in Athens, to look for a country to seek asylum.

She is expecting to look for a country which can provide essential services, like schools, hospitals and provision of water and electricity.

 

She left Damascus 5 years ago and she managed to stay in Lebanon for circa 2-3 years .

Then she moved back to Syria, afterwards to Turkey and finally to Greece.

 

The bad situation in Lebanon was the cause of her premature return to Syria: no work, no integration and problems that Hezbollah caused to her (and to her husband Mohammed too).

She speaks English very well because she was a teacher of History and Geography and she had classes in English as well, back in the university while she was studying Archeology.

She does not want to go back to Syria until the war is gone.

Mohammed’s story

Mohammed and Meysun were living together in Syria and they hope to live together for the rest of their lives.

Before escaping, he was an archeologist student and he was working as electrician.

They met each other because of a friend and they liked each other from the first moment and since that moment, he feels that his life is positive no matter what, if he stays with her.

They both still have family in Syria.

His brother wants to live and even die for his own country, despite the fact that he is a language teacher for kids.

The war, according to him, did not touch Damascus as much as it touched other cities.

He wants to go back to Syria only when the conflict will be 100% over and when the country will be declared safe.

Moreover, the family is really displaced: they have 2 brothers in Germany, 2 sisters in Lebanon, 1 sister in Saudi Arabia (but she started living there more than 15 years ago) and 2 brothers in Syria. One of them was put in jail during the war.

 

Basir Sinjar’s story

Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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Here’s Basir. Despite his injury at his left arm (caused by playing football), he’s incredibly active and full of energies.

He’s from Iraq, he’s 16y old and he arrived in Kara Tepe 3 months before the visit we made (end of April 2016).

He still has 3 relatives left in Iraq, but still he’s here with his family.

He escaped Iraq because of Daesh/ISIS, the civil war and the bombings.

He has already a brother in Hamburg and he’s planning to reach him. His brother too escaped from Daesh/ISIS.

He said that during his staying in Kara Tepe, despite the bad services he has, he managed to stay well here in the camp.

He got new friends but not so many (just 5).

He and his family are planning to move to Athens soon.

He loves to swim and being on an island helps this passion. He also loves to play and listen music.

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The HSA Tea Point is next to Kara Tepe square. Not hard to find.

He is now volunteering in the camp to, for the HSA (Humanitarian Support Agency) Tea Point. He has been volunteering there after his 5th day in the camp and his job is to provide food for everybody.

 

Iraqi girls and a Save The Chidren Volunteer’s stories

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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One of the two Iraqi girls, with her daughter and Yevgeniya (AEGEE Kyiv/SUCT)

They don’t know yet when and where they will go. They just want to go away and reach another country in Europe, no matter if it is in Northern Europe or anywhere else. They want to live in peace and away from the camp.

(We communicate with them by using Google Translate app. Despite the usual issues, we were able to communicate well)

UNHCR is there to help them but it’s acting badly, according to them.

They would like to speak to the Human Rights’ Watch, about their situation.

Moreover, since they are not Syrians, they are stuck in the camp and the EU won’t allow them to move from the island.

The story of Georgia

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She is a volunteer for Save The Children International and a counselor for mothers.

She is mostly helping local women with the promotion of breastfeeding and helping the mothers and the pregnant women.

 

 

Mokhtar’s story

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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Mokhtar and his fiancée.

He is from Algeria, from Uran.

He has an Italian visa, but his fiancée couldn’t obtain one, so in order to get to Europe with her in another way, they managed to go to Turkey.

Once he got to the Aegean coasts of Turkey, he spent almost all his money to pay a smuggler, for himself and for his finacée.

Then, they went on a dinghy, equipped with a total of 13 people.

Unfortunately, the dinghy sank, 7 people died and 6 survived.

Among these 6, there were just 5 life jackets, and he gave his to his fiancée, in order to save her.

He manage to survive in the Aegean sea for circa 8-9 hours, during which he and she were badly stung by jellyfishes, which causes them huge burns alike scars.

After that time, they were discovered and brought to the island of Lesvos.

On that island, he managed to pay the cure for his fiancée, which was not feeling 100% of her forces at all. But with that, he spent all of his money he spent.

He decided to spent this very last money because of the lack of cures he found out in the camp.

After her recovery, he was brought together with her in the refugee camp.

 

Words from the Director of Kara Tepe Camp

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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The director of the camp with AEGEE Peiraias’ SU participants and organizers.

What you will see in this camp are asylum seekers, refugees.

At this very moment (end of July 2016), I am serving in this camp for over 3 months.

All the people in here used to have a normal life in the camp, especially with respect to what they passed through in Syria and in Turkey.

This camp, this village is their first step ever on EU soil.

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The entrance of the Kara Tepe camp.

All the local camp organizers and me want to make them feel welcome.

This village (of Kara Tepe) was built from nothing back in September 2015, when the situation was much worse.

All the organizers and the organization in here do not have any political vision, they just operate here for the sake of the refugees, by providing most of the help and by contributing, as much as possible, with a feeling of hospitality.

In the camp there are so many family problems. That’s another side where we have to intervene to help, because all together we can try to provide solutions which can improve day-by-day.

In this place, also, there are circa 800 unavoidable cases. Cases where the families are incomplete, people with psychological problems and PTSDs.

The participants in here are allowed to take photos and videos, but first thing first: ask before taking those, in order to show a respectful behaviour.

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The football pitch of Kara Tepe.

Kara Tepe, especially, is not a zoo. It’s a village full of humans, people like you and me.

In this village, you’ll find and meet important people: people who were doctors, generals, artists, professionals. All of them are great!

About the internal programs: the food delivery is on their programs and it’s one of the most important thing of the every daily schedule in the camp.

The daily schedule is programmed to make the people in the camp feel living, as much as possible, a normal life.

Remember: it’s true that humans make drama, but in here you will find life and hope. Leave what you heard and the thoughts you have about refugee camps out of this camp and live it.

 

Mashad’s story

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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Mashad in this picture with one of his friends.

Mashad is an Iranian guy, and he is a student of engineering.

He escaped from Iran due to limited rights, due to a risk to his freedom and due to the threats he received because of his religion.

To come to Europe (and Kara Tepe) he managed to make a long journey, because illegally escaping from Iran could have cost him 1 year of jail and a huge fine.

He is stuck in Kara Tepe for over 2 months (since May 2016). And in these two months, he realized that another problem he has is that he’s not Syrian, so he can’t access that easily the asylum process, made of interviews and generally, more freedom of movement.

 

The situation for him is not good: the quality of water is not good at all, the temperatures are too high and he feels abandoned under the hot sun of Greece, there is no sufficient electricity, the food is very bad, there are no roads built and especially, there are no doctors, just nurses.

In the camp he hasn’t experienced any problem with people from other nationalities or generally, with any people in the camp.

The only problems with people he has, are, quoting him, with the government of his originary country.

If he will ever have a chance, he would like to go to Germany, but he has no family there. He just want to restart as soon as possible his own life.

He doesn’t want to go back to Iran at all. There would be police waiting for him and he would have problems in general, because his father and parts of his family are in jail now.

He just want to reach Germany as soon as possible.

 

Mohamed’s story

d’s (Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.

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In this picture, Mohamed and his wife.

 

Mohammed is Syrian and he reached the camp of Kara Tepe, on Lesvos island, only 1 month before the visit (end of June 2016).

He is from Aleppo, and he escaped from the bombing with his wife and her daughter.

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Mohamed’s daughter with Marit (AEGEE Utrecht) and Aliénor (AEGEE Brussels/CEWG)

He escaped to Turkey first, and he was able to survive because of his knowledge of Kurdish, Arabic and a little bit of English and French.

He was a chef in a renowned restaurant in Aleppo, specialized in international cuisine.

His experience in Kara Tepe and generally, in Lesvos, is really hard.

There is bad food, he has no money and the money he was able to collect, he gave to some smugglers to help his family to escape.

Moreover, his freedom of movement is now limited.

He wants to seek asylum in Northern Europe or in Northern America.

 

Expectations of SU participants before entering Camp Moria

(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)

This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.
In this series of posts, I tried to gather either the opinions of participants or the opinions of the people i found out in the camp. In any case, i asked them first about possible questions for my paper log that soon would have been translated into this project.

All the posts of this series were authorized by all the people you will read about.

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Participants out of Camp Moria. In the end, participants and organizers weren’t allowed to enter in that camp.

So, i started making questions, to every single person who wanted to answer. Here are the impressions i gathered by asking one precise question.

What are your expectations BEFORE getting into this camp?

YEVGENYIA (AEGEE Kyiv/SUCT): To get real stories by real people.

EVGENYIA (AEGEE Dnipro): Seeing the reality and to prove that this people has the right to live, stories to tell about their survival, overcoming the rumors and the news i saw (on media)

MARIT (AEGEE Utrecht): Only having a view, because of the program, reduced my expectations. I hope we can be able to get inside.

MARCOS (AEGEE A Coruña): The space we are having is not the best one due to limitations. We could have it expected to have something like that. I hope we can be able to take pictures and videos,
and i hope we can organize something with them, like a football match.

ALIENOR (AEGEE Brussels/CEWG/MIGR): I want to be there first and see. I want to see us as not unwanted and to not having negative feedbacks

JOSINE (AEGEE Groningen): I want to be there first and see.

JONAS (AEGEE Dresden): We have to look first at the situation in there, but I hope we can contribute a lot with some kind of activities.

STEFANIA (AEGEE Budapest): Since i work with Refugees i have heard lots of stories and journeys and i want to understand a little bit better the whole thing.

ROLAND (AEGEE Amsterdam): We will see children and families tore apart, people with PTSD escaping from warzones and i am curious to see how people will see their future, if they found it safe. Also, i want to know what do the organizers think.

NEREA (AEGEE Zaragoza): I thought we were supposed to be here for more days. We can’t actually help them in a concrete way. For sure i wasn’t expecting activities like this one.

CARMINE (AEGEE Salerno): I don’t know what to expect because i know how a refugee camp is made [he already volunteered in a camp in Italy]. I hope it won’t be a sad experience, because it can create bad feelings and a strong dissatisfaction for them.
Not making pictures [the thing later changed for Kara Tepe camp], I think is a synthom that refugees can be stressed.

ELEONORA (AEGEE Treviso): Before getting in the camp, i had goosebumps. I wanted to see a better camp, not one surveilled by people and barbed-wire fences.

GIOULI (Organizer, AEGEE Peiraias): I thought it would have been sad due to fences, due to people missing a real home. I am sad towards them, because these are not living conditions at all.

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Official banner representing the construction project of Camp Moria

SANNE (AEGEE Maastricht): It’s similar to the camp i saw in Malta [during her exchange experience] and that’s bad to see.

SKANDER (AEGEE Leiden): I Hope it won’t be depresseing for them and i hope they still have hope for their future.

LIVIO (AEGEE Bologna): It’s the first time i saw this level of security in action and so much fences! I thought the camp was bigger but now I realize this. I guess it is stressful and
painful to stay in there. I feel myself as an outsider. The visiting thing is kind of strange for me as well. I don’t know how can we contribute by just going to visit them, it can be
inappropriate.