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Greece’s Eleonas Refugee Camp Is A Protected Haven For Afghan Refugees

Garment-Dyed Membrana Hooded Jacket In BlackIf a police automotive wasn’t parked outdoors its entrance, you’d hardly be capable to guess that there’s a refugee camp in this Athens neighborhood. Parked trucks and junk yards encompass the campsite, which had been empty until not too long ago. A wall and a sliding door prevent anybody from looking inside. It is completely quiet — very few sounds come from the camp.

We enter the enclosure with a small group of Afghan refugees. The one documentation they’re required to indicate to get in are the momentary residence playing cards they received upon arriving in Greece.

White makeshift houses are neatly lined up. Whoever needs to go away the camp has to undergo a small home that serves as a reception. A sign on certainly one of its home windows reads “IN/OUT.” Another bungalow houses a medical center. The Pink Cross operates out of it, and there’s a kitchen where the Greek Navy hands out meals. The kids’s area is probably the most lively a part of the camp.

All kinds of people come and go: volunteers, workers of the Ministry of Migration and members of nongovernmental organizations. There are also individuals from the United Nations refugee agency, the NGO “Praksis” and the government’s asylum providers.

A lot of the refugees in the camp are Afghans who wish to keep away from camping out in public places like Victoria Sq.. Many of them go away after two or three days, once they receive cash wired to them from pals and kin, which will fund the following leg of their journey.

I meet Sayed Ahman in the children’s tent. He is about two or three years old and bursts into laughter every time he’s teased. His dad, Atmajan, 42, got here to Greece with his spouse, little Sayed and his baby brother, Etmah. The family set out from their hometown 40 days in the past leaving their seven and nine yr outdated daughters with their grandparents.

“In Afghanistan I had a job, which was Okay contemplating the situation there, I drove an ambulance and plenty of instances I worked for the UN,” Atmajan says. “But on a regular basis life in Afghanistan is absolutely onerous. There are the Taliban, the tribe leaders, the military even, you do not know who it is best to guard your self from, who’s preventing whom … Working with the ambulance I saw quite a lot of terrible issues. We had to leave.”

I ask him concerning the route they followed. “In 15 days we crossed via Iran and in one other five through Turkey. All through the best way we navy blue stone island coat had been with traffickers, we were scared to maneuver by ourselves. You feel continuously in danger, you simply go on without understanding precisely where you might be,” Atmajan says. From Turkey, their journey was so hasty that he solely remembers crossing over by boat. “These hours inside the boat with my wife and two children were the most dangerous,” he says.

Does he miss his daughters “We are communicating all the time, but our souls damage and my wife cries all the time,” Atmajan says. “We don’t know the place we are going to end up, but once we attain someplace we are going to carry the women, all be collectively again.”

Anthi Karaggeli of the Greek interior ministry says that there are guidelines in the camp, however people are free to come and go. “We primarily want the individuals to feel secure and calm contained in the camp,” she says. “They need the calm, they have been through a lot. They have risked both their lives and the lives of their children, so they’re very emotional. Right here, they can catch their breath and keep going.”

There have been small protests earlier than the camp opened at the top of August. “It was seven folks all in all who protested, and they are residents of the wider area as a result of there isn’t any neighborhood here,” Karaggeli says. “The quantity of individuals from Votanikos, from Eleonas, who arrive at the camp carrying clothes, food, milk, and toys for the refugees’ youngsters is far greater. They usually deliver their kids with them to play with these children, even if they do not communicate the identical language.”

Within the camp there are ninety four little houses, 90 of which are occupied. Every home has four double bunk beds, a sink with some small cupboards, a bathroom with a shower and air conditioning. The camp can hold 720 folks. Two families of four can stay collectively, but single males touring alone are sheltered in another part, not remoted however separate.

A refugee comes closer. He wants to share one thing. He says he misplaced most of his cash in the boat to the Greek island of Lesbos. He’s right here on the camp along with his family, seven people in total. The man says the trafficker requested for 1,000 euros for every individual and half that amount for every baby for them to proceed the journey, however the family solely has 400 euros left.

“I do not know what to do,” the man says. He shows a contemporary scar on his forehead and says he was attacked by Pakistanis with sticks and stones when he was in Lesbos. The situation was actually powerful. “Here we are respected and taken care of,” he said about conditions in the camp. “We thank them, we thank you all.”

Mohamed, 22, and Khojand, 23, are Afghans, but they were raised in Iran, where their households sought a safer future. They met on the journey to Greece and grew to become pals. Each men are considered “economic migrants.”

I discover them listening to Iranian rap in a shady a part of the camp.
Mohamed and Khojand say they left Iran as a result of the state handled them like second class citizens. They passed from Iran to Turkey, walking for hours within the mountains, together with the traffickers. Sooner or later they were robbed by locals who wanted to get the traffickers’ cash however eventually took personal objects from their “cargo”. To journey from Iran to Turkey, Mohamed and Khojand say they paid $500 and another $1,000 to reach Lesbos on a dinghy.

It took them, and 35 others, two and a half hours to achieve European soil in the little boat. The sea was calm at first, then somewhere on the way in which the boat’s engine crashed and began to flood. They needed to empty the waters. “We have been really scared,” they say.

“Here, everything is nice,” Mohamed says in regards to the camp in Eleonas. “There is not any such camp in Asia.”

It’s getting darkish. Volunteers with the Greek Pink Cross entertain the children with balls and drawing.

Katerina, a volunteer, says, “Despite their stress and fatigue, they are full of vitality, typical youngsters. They are so pleased with the little issues like painting. After they leave here, they never cry, we always see them smiling.”

There are nights when the refugees collect in a circle and sing. “They chill out. And we with them. We neglect to go home,” Karaggeli says.

All photographs courtesy of Menelaos Myrillas.
This put up first appeared on HuffPost Greece and was translated into English. It has been edited for readability.

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