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Education and Neutrality

A Statement from Stand by me Lesvos.

Stand by me Lesvos considers itself as an organization with the main focus on education. Since 2018 thousands of refugees joined our classes. We strongly believe in the power of education and also know how lot’s of refugees are longing to learn and study while they are awaiting their asylum process. We always followed a very simple, but efficient rule: Education should be neutral, respecting all the various faiths and religions of the camp residents and not force any on them. Lot’s of people fled because they were prosecuted for their beliefs, be it Muslims from Sunni and Shia background, Yazidis, Christians or non-believers. Most of them come from countries dominated by religious intolerance and oppression and they seek refuge in Europe hoping to freely live whatever they believe in. We do respect this and everyone has the right to religious freedom in Europe, but this also includes the right to be free from any religious dominance. In the past years we have faced many attempts of different actors to influence the curricula in our schools and were always very strict: Religion should be respected but stay outside the class rooms. This concept was widely appreciated by our students from all faiths. On the other hand we know that NGOs working on Lesvos come here out of different motivations and we respect them all. We know that various of them have a strong Christian background. One motivation is as good as the other as long as education is not touched. Unfortunately we see some of these organizations taking over more and more responsibility in the field of children’s education in the new camp and we were already approached by refugees who fear there could be attempts to convince them of the superiority of certain Christian faiths over other religions. If one google the background of these organizations one finds a lot of sentences related to missionary motives and calls to spread the word of Jesus worldwide. It is not up on us to judge how they interpret their mission, but we know after years of working in this field that people from Middle Eastern countries, be they Muslims, Yazidis or Christians are very cautious when it comes to any attempt to convince them about the superiority of another religion. Rumors also are spreading fast in the camp. Therefore we want to express our concern about this developments. We truly believe organizations with a religious background should better stick to other fields of humanitarian assistance and try to stay away from educating children in the camps. There are many teachers and professionals on this island, both inside the camp, in Mytilini and in the ranks of other NGOs who are very capable of teaching both in the formal and informal sector. Additionally, we as a Greek organization, find it a bit alarming that some of the religious NGOs do have very close contact to a Greek protestant movement calling itself „Hellenic Ministries“ and claiming that Greece is a „a darkened nation“, because only „1% 1% claim to be born again“, which we read that the majority of our compatriots obviously follow the wrong religion. In contrary we believe in a very tense and difficult situation like we currently live in on Lesvos only mutual tolerance can help keeping this place peaceful. We are grateful for everyone who offers a helping hand, but again we do believe the sector of education should stay totally neutral and far away from any religious teachings. We do not want to create any more tensions, but only express our grave concern about recent developments. Therefore we are keeping this statement general.

Feel free to directly contact us for more information.

Mytilini, 27.11.2020

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Stand by me Lesvos
An update and statement from Just Action in Samos:*Greek version below*Follow-up statement about ZervouIn our previous statement about the new 'closed and controlled' structure in Zervou, we've already voiced out our concerns and opposition to what is currently happening on the island. Having been in the making for a long time, the new 'Multipurpose Reception and Identificaton Centre' (MPRIC) got inaugurated on Saturday and the first transfers of people to the new structure started this morning. This happens after yesterday night yet another fire broke out in the camp, showing us once again that camps are not a save place for people to live in – open or closed. Alongside most other actors on site, we refused to be part of the transportation of the people currently residing in the Vathy RIC to the new facility. We will remain active and responsive to ensure that everybody will receive food and hygiene items within the next days in a location close to the Zervou camp. Since we don't believe that the current and past 'hotspot system' – one that is focused on large-scale containment of human beings – presents an adequate solution to the European solidarity crisis, we won't operate inside the new MPRIC. After a long weekend with several protests in Vathy as well as in proximity to the new camp, we would like to take a look at this new superstructure. On the positive side, one must admit – in favor or not – that the new hotspot is by far not comparable to the shameful Vathy RIC. Here people seeking refuge will have better accommodation, running water and electricity. The old camp clearly was a representation of inhumane treatment for the displaced communities. However, the new MPRIC is very far from ideal. Being in significant distance from Vathy, the only place on the island most of the asylum seekers know but also from Mytilinioi, the closest village to the new camp, the remote location doesn’t seem to better freedom of movement or any mental health issues. This is without even considering the curfew that people will have to deal with. Even though transportation will be provided according to the authorities, one must admit that 1,60 euros for a one-way ticket is simply too much to pay for people who often have nothing. Although a seemingly low fare, when relying on a low amount of cash assistance - or none at all - this becomes unfair and disproportionally expensive. Refugees have been consciously placed in a remote, inaccessible area of the island, and with the inflated budget pumped into this MPRIC, this should not be a paid service. The new remote, fenced and highly controlled area in Zervou will only further marginalise and discriminate the displaced communities. The building of new 'hotspots' in the middle of nowhere cannot be the European answer to the 'migration problem'. The large-scale harm on the external EU-border must stop. We therefore repeat: Camps are not a safe place. Camps are no place for a dignified life. Camps are not the solution.To learn more about what happened over this weekend, visit our linktree and read the article 'Nobody Is Welcome – A New Hotspot to Keep Refugees Out of Sight, Out of Mind.'-----Στην προηγούμενη ανακοίνωσή μας σχετικά με τη νέα "κλειστή και ελεγχόμενη" δομή στη Ζερβού, έχουμε ήδη εκφράσει τις ανησυχίες και την αντίθεσή μας σε αυτό που συμβαίνει σήμερα στο νησί. Έχοντας προετοιμαστεί εδώ και πολύ καιρό, το νέο "Πολυδύναμο Κέντρο Υποδοχής και Ταυτοποίησης" (KYT) εγκαινιάστηκε το Σάββατο και οι πρώτες μεταφορές ανθρώπων στη νέα δομή ξεκίνησαν σήμερα το πρωί. Αυτό συμβαίνει αφού χθες το βράδυ ξέσπασε άλλη μια πυρκαγιά στον καταυλισμό, δείχνοντάς μας για άλλη μια φορά ότι οι καταυλισμοί δεν είναι ένα ασφαλές μέρος για να ζουν οι άνθρωποι - ανοιχτοί ή κλειστοί. Μαζί με τους περισσότερους άλλους φορείς που βρίσκονται στο χώρο, αρνηθήκαμε να συμμετάσχουμε στη μεταφορά των ανθρώπων που διαμένουν σήμερα στο KYT Βαθύ στη νέα δομή. Θα παραμείνουμε ενεργοί και θα ανταποκριθούμε για να διασφαλίσουμε ότι όλοι θα λάβουν τρόφιμα και είδη υγιεινής εντός των επόμενων ημερών σε μια τοποθεσία κοντά στον καταυλισμό Ζερβού. Δεδομένου ότι δεν πιστεύουμε ότι το σημερινό και το προηγούμενο "σύστημα hotspot" - ένα σύστημα που επικεντρώνεται στον εγκλωβισμό ανθρώπων σε μεγάλη κλίμακα - αποτελεί επαρκή λύση για την ευρωπαϊκή κρίση αλληλεγγύης, δεν θα δραστηριοποιηθούμε εντός του νέου KYT. Μετά από ένα μακρύ Σαββατοκύριακο με αρκετές διαμαρτυρίες στο Βαθύ καθώς και κοντά στο νέο KYT, θα θέλαμε να ρίξουμε μια ματιά σε αυτή τη νέα υπερδομή. Από τη θετική πλευρά, πρέπει να παραδεχτούμε - υπέρ ή κατά - ότι το νέο hotspot δεν συγκρίνεται με τίποτα με το επαίσχυντο KYT του Βαθύ. Εδώ οι άνθρωποι που αναζητούν καταφύγιο θα έχουν καλύτερη διαμονή, τρεχούμενο νερό και ηλεκτρικό ρεύμα. Ο παλιός καταυλισμός αποτελούσε ξεκάθαρα μια αναπαράσταση απάνθρωπης μεταχείρισης για τις κοινότητες των εκτοπισμένων. Ωστόσο, το νέο KYT απέχει πολύ από το ιδανικό. Όντας σε σημαντική απόσταση από το Βαθύ, το μόνο μέρος στο νησί που γνωρίζουν οι περισσότεροι αιτούντες άσυλο, αλλά και από τους Μυτιληνιούς, το πλησιέστερο χωριό στο νέο KYT, η απομακρυσμένη τοποθεσία δεν φαίνεται να βελτιώνει την ελευθερία μετακίνησης ή τυχόν προβλήματα ψυχικής υγείας. Και αυτό χωρίς καν να ληφθεί υπόψη η απαγόρευση της κυκλοφορίας που θα πρέπει να αντιμετωπίσουν οι άνθρωποι. Παρόλο που θα παρέχεται μεταφορά σύμφωνα με τις αρχές, πρέπει να παραδεχτεί κανείς ότι 1,60 ευρώ για ένα εισιτήριο χωρίς επιστροφή είναι απλά πάρα πολλά για ανθρώπους που συχνά δεν έχουν τίποτα. Αν και φαινομενικά πρόκειται για ένα χαμηλό ναύλο, όταν βασίζεται σε ένα μικρό ποσό χρηματικής βοήθειας - ή και καθόλου - αυτό γίνεται άδικο και δυσανάλογα ακριβό. Οι πρόσφυγες έχουν συνειδητά τοποθετηθεί σε μια απομακρυσμένη, δυσπρόσιτη περιοχή του νησιού και με τον φουσκωμένο προϋπολογισμό που διοχετεύεται σε αυτό το KYT, αυτό δεν θα έπρεπε να είναι μια πληρωμένη υπηρεσία. Η νέα απομακρυσμένη, περιφραγμένη και αυστηρά ελεγχόμενη περιοχή στο Ζερβού θα περιθωριοποιήσει και θα κάνει διακρίσεις στις κοινότητες των εκτοπισμένων. Η δημιουργία νέων "hotspots" στη μέση του πουθενά δεν μπορεί να είναι η ευρωπαϊκή απάντηση στο "μεταναστευτικό πρόβλημα". Η μεγάλης κλίμακας βλάβη στα εξωτερικά σύνορα της ΕΕ πρέπει να σταματήσει. Συνεπώς, επαναλαμβάνουμε: Οι καταυλισμοί δεν είναι ασφαλές μέρος. Οι καταυλισμοί δεν είναι μέρος για μια αξιοπρεπή ζωή. Οι καταυλισμοί δεν είναι η λύση.Για να μάθετε περισσότερα σχετικά με το τι συνέβη αυτό το Σαββατοκύριακο, επισκεφθείτε το linktree μας και διαβάστε το άρθρο 'Nobody Is Welcome — A New Hotspot to Keep Refugees Out of Sight, Out of Mind.'.(Photo credit: Just Action, Giorgos Christides & Nikos Drapaniotis) ... .See Less
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