Refugee crisis: Report from Are You Syrious (20.1.16) 21.3.16

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"Refugees are rejecting the possibility of being sent back to Turkey, or to their countries of origin. Worrying information is coming from different camps about volunteers and small NGOs being asked to leave. Under the EU-Turkey agreement, all people who cross by the sea from Turkey to Greece, from today on will be sent back once they are registered and it is determined that they do not have the right to international protection. However, reports from the field are saying that registration has been suspended on the islands, but there are no detail about this as of now. In addition to this, camps on islands were mostly emptied during the weekend.

Volunteers are reporting chaotic scenes at Lesvos. “People have been herded onto ferries amidst chaotic scenes - kids, disabled people, refugees who have lost close family members in war or in the dangerous crossing to get here have all been sitting out in the cold for hours, many without the money to pay for ferry tickets, which have not been discounted by the companies involved or paid for by NGOs or governments, even though they were forced into this position,” one of them wrote.
Authorities in Moria, on Lesvos, confirmed that the instructions were given to relocate all the refugees to the mainland. On Sunday night, most of the camps were emptied. According to available data, up to 3,000 left #Lesvos today, almost all for ?#?Elefsina? near ?#?Athens?, and some to ?#?Kavala?. People were asked to take buses to the port and then were taken to other directions. It is not clear what will happen with them once they arrive at the destinations. People at other islands are still waiting to hear about what will happen to them, but they will probably also be moved to the mainland.
The biggest issue is the future of refugees from Pakistan who are by large placed in #Moria, OliveGrove camp that was surrounded by riot police today. Pakistani residents were told they have two options: to go peacefully or be removed by police. After protest and long meeting, with volunteers present, up to 150 people decided to register voluntarily and they will probably have to leave the camp tomorrow. It is not clear what their future may be. They were told, if willing to stay in Greece, they have to move from islands and to finance their stay in Greece by themselves. They are refusing to go back to Turkey.
Camp authorities in Moria, according to the New That Moves, confirmed that the camp will be transformed into a detention center with restricted freedom of movement. Construction is going on for several days. After this decision was made public, UNHCR announced they will no longer provide buses for refugees who arrive on Lesvos on their own. "Dear colleagues, please be informed that as of 20 March, UNHCR has discontinued its transport of refugees and migrants from the shores and ports to the Moria detention facility. The government's decision to transform the Moria hotspot that allowed for freedom of movement into a closed facility has led UNHCR to take this principled decision. The authorities are aware of UNHCR's decision and are responsible for the transport of people arriving on their territory. UNHCR will, however, together with partners and volunteers (and the ambulance service) transport individuals in need of urgent medical attention to the hospital. We will also continue to work alongside NGOs and volunteers on providing life-saving assistance on the shores and in the ports. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation in this difficult and rapidly-changing situation,” the announcement reads.


Volunteer are reporting that they have been asked to leave the camp. “In Moria all registered refugees were taken on buses to the ferry or Kara Tepe. The army and police have now moved in and taken control. The atmosphere is heavy, eerie and very sad inside the camp. The NGOs have been asked to leave as the Moria registration hotspot becomes a closed detention facility. Today we watched the NGOs packing up their offices and heading out. Everyone was evacuated out of the family compound by police, including vulnerable cases which led to great confusion.There were also 350 – 400 unregistered new arrivals. A couple of lone volunteers stayed on to try and help but as no one really seems to know what is going on it is very difficult for anyone trying to help. I spoke to 2 Frontex guys and they had no idea what was happening so for now they've closed registration. There were 3 buses of riot police stationed out on the road most of the day. By the evening it was just one. Luckily there was no violence.”
The only camp at Lesvos that will not be evacuated is Pikpa where some of the most vulnerable refugees are placed. Yesterday, the mayor of Mytilini suggested to volunteers to evacuate the camp but he very quickly understood that the vulnerable cases of Pikpa cannot be sent to a
camp and they need to find a proper shelter for them. Volunteers warn that military camps are not the solution. Despite the evacuations, refugees continue arriving at the islands."

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