For years, I have been trying my best to serve asylum seekers in Turkey and Greece. during a recent trip to Greece that we came up with the idea of a permanent place for asylum seekers, making it so that they could gather in a place more suitable than Victoria Square. To do this, a project called “Café Patogh”, a space dedicated for refugees, was brought to life by Arash a refuge and human Right activist living in Athens. During this trip, I also met a group of Norwegian activists working to help refugees who were willing to collaborate with us.
The following report is based on my recent trip to Greece, where I visited three refugee camps and held conversations with asylum seekers.
There are three refugee camps near Athens.
The camp is located near the city of Athens. In this camp, about 1000 refugees live in containers and have to deal with unsuitable conditions. There are about 8 people living per container, which have a bathroom and shower but no hot water. Even a little rain can cause water to start dripping from the ceilings and walls. Despite the very bad conditions, the refugees in the camp consider themselves lucky to have shelter. The camp does not have guards around the clock, so anyone can move in and out freely. That is the reason there is no security for asylum seekers in the camp. Outside, other asylum seekers with young children live in tents without any facilities or support.
This camp is dedicated to the Kurds, especially Kurdish refugees from Afrin and Kobani. Of the camp's nearly 900 asylum seekers, there are still some have not yet been registered. Some of them have been living in this camp for more than two years. Among the refugees in the camp are many children and teenagers in the camp who escaped the war, living in uncertainty regarding their futures. When I asked some of them how they see the future, the answer was, "There is no bright future for us." Since the camp is far from Athens, they must travel there by train, a journey that costs 10 Euros, to do their administrative work. It is very difficult for asylum seekers to pay this amount considering financial hardship.
The camp is 40 minutes away from Athens and the only way to get there is by train, at the cost of 8 Euros for a return trip. A small number of asylum seekers in the camp live in small apartments, others in containers, and there about 400 in tents. Those living in tents have not yet been registered and therefore cannot receive support from anywhere.
In all camps, asylum seekers are deprived of the minimum health services, and the schools in the area do not accept their children.
They urged us to be their voice.
Following the review, I can provide the following list of issues that face asylum seekers:
Financial and accommodation problems especially single parents with young children.
Lack of educational services for youth.
Lack of access to dental and medical facilities.
Language barrier (Greek).
Based on this, the following suggestions are recommended:
Contacting organizations and governments to address the problems of asylum seekers.
Providing temporary shelter for mothers with young children until a suitable location is found.
Contacting the Department of Education to provide the necessary facilities and services for children and youth.
Teaching the Greek language at the Café Patogh for adults.
Preparation of a portable dental chair and the necessary dental equipment in the Café Patogh. A dentist is going to provide help for the refugees