Stand By Me Lesvos

EU funding for five refugee camps housing, BBC interview

The EU has pledged 150 million euros of funding for five camps housing refugees on the Greek Aegean islands. But not everybody is happy. To find out why, we can head the island of Lesvos and speak to Shirin Tinnesand from the non-profit organization Stand by Me Lesvos. Thank you very much for talking to us, so what are the concerns?

To build five new camps, we don’t necessarily feel will address the initial issue at hand, because lots of grants have been given in the past, but, what we are seeing here inside the camps is that the people’s rights are actively being violated as well as withheld. If you’re going to solve the situation, first of all, you need to address the conditions in which lots of people are living in, rather than to just construct more camps. There is already a double-digit amount of camps inside Greece with similar conditions, and these conditions are not fulfilling the rights of the people.

But would not more camps ease the pressure in the existing ones just simply allow people to live better lives?

Last year, in 2020, in March at this time, the camps were severely overpopulated, and it is true that camps are overpopulated in terms of the size. But that is not the only problem inside the camp. It is also an issue in terms of hygiene facilities, in terms of food, – the shelter that they have been given are not of good enough standard. All over winter, with minus degrees, people were not given any heaters, only a small handful [received], to cope with the cold. So it would not work in terms of reducing the amount of people in the camps. Are these camp going to be built in order to address the facilities? Or, are they being built so people can be held in there longer? What we really need is decent and humane politics, refugee politics in terms of a mechanism structures of what is going to happen with these people. To just hold them in camps in conditions that doesn’t live up to standard is not necessarily the solution.

On the one hand, you have refugees saying, look, we need better conditions, we need, as you say, better refugee politics from European authorities. There is also resistances there from people on Lesvos and other places to the idea of further camps.

Yeah, as Yvla Johansson was arriving here, the European Commissioner of Home Affairs, people from the right hand side, as well as the left hand side of the local population all gathered up demonstrating for this cause, because they don’t want it! What they are saying is that “we don’t want more camps which are actively violating people’s rights and exploiting people here at our homes”. The same goes for the right hand side which is saying “we’re fed up with this situation, we are getting all the consequences of EU failed politics, and we don’t want it, so please don’t put this on us anymore. We want a proper resolve to deal with this.”

March 31, 2021




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