Stand By Me Lesvos

The Day after the Closure of Stand by me Lesvos’ Academia

Last Monday just after one hundred women and children newly registered for classes in Stand by Lesvos’ Academia local authorities came and closed the place, because according to them sanitary installations are not sufficient.

It has been a sad day. We have just ended a solidarity strike we did to get this message out:

“We wish to make a statement now before the situation explodes, and both the citizens of Lesvos and the refugees living in Moria pay the price. We hope not only for your understanding but for your active support of this important measure, which goes hand in hand with concrete demands on the EU, Greek and European governments to finally find humane solutions.”

While refugees inside the notorious Moria are often forced to share one toilet with hundreds of others, authorities believe one toilet inside the campus is a problem.

And the closure affects our partners from Fenix Aid as well. They are offering much needed legal assistance for refugees.

One day later a German TV team visited the place, interviewing some of the dozens of refugees who came to learn or get legal consultancy. We translated some excerpts into English:

We are now heading to a school (Academia) and along the road we can see the cars of the people who work here. We can hence imagine the size of the school. In the white car in front, Mixalis is driving. He manages an organization that provides classes to people living in the camp.

We can see that young people are all standing outside and we can see a red and white band forbidding access. Children are not in school, but why ?


The journalist conducted some interviews with refugees waiting the place to open, because they didn’t hear about the closure. She talks in Farsi with an Afghan women and then explains what she learned from her:

She explains that she is completely lost and she was told that she would be deported. She is asking me what she should do. She is asking: “where shall we go and why do we have to leave the country ?”

 The journalist’s comments: That is exactly the terms of the new procedure in Greece: Since 2020, people arriving in the country receive a response within 24 days. She has already received a response and needs to leave the country.

The journalist asks her what she she came for

“We are here to get juridical support as beside the school, juridical assistance is provided here”

Later she talks with a child, who is telling her:

“My father was to be deported and  we have to stay here.”  The child does not understand ! He does not want to live here without his father. The father has received a letter informing him that he was to be deported. Hence they are here to receive juridical assistance from this NGO (Fenix). However the NGO cannot work today as the government has closed the building.

The journalist then asks the woman if she knew what to expect before coming. She replies that she did not, she fled from the war in her country to find a future here and get protection. She has no idea where to go, as she is certain that her husband will be deported. It has now been 3 months since they left their country.

These are just some stories we had to hear in front of our place during closure. Dozens of women and children came eager to learn an study and we had to send them away. No one understood how a school could be closed because of some issues with a toilet, if only few toilets are available in the nearby camp, where 20.000 people have to live.

Just recently Aziza, a girl from Afghanistan, wrote in a letter people should understand she came to Europe because she wants to get a good education here. There is very few places offering any education near Moria, Academia is one of them, but for the time being closed because of sanitary issues.

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