Open letter from Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Ritsona camp 13.9.16


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Below is a translation of a letter written by Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in the Ritsona camp near Chalkida in Greece, around one hour north of Athens. It was originally published on the website R Project (link) in Greek; the text below is a translation of that in Spanish published by Diagonal on 27 August 2016.


Open letter from Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Risona camp

15 August 2016

With this letter we would like to inform the Greek government, political parties, the international community and Greek society of the bad living conditions in the Ritsona camp. We are human beings from Syria and Iraq living in the camp.

We respect your country and your state, but above all your brave people. Our people were equally brave until war destroyed our lives and our dignity.

The migration route brought us to Greece and, now trapped in Ritsona, we transmit to you a message of a life that remains tragic and inhumane.

We are Syrians and Iraqis that have escaped injustice and are now trapped in misery. We live in tents beneath the burning sun, in hellish temperatures, while in the months gone by the cold, especially in the night, was unbearable.

The army has taken on responsibility for feeding us and we would like to offer our thanks to them; however, the food does not meet our needs given that in the camp there are small children and elderly people that require special attention.

The wait and the fact that nobody is able to tell us what is going to happen in the future has created an environment of intense stress leading to problems for people's mental health.

We live literally isolated in a forest, in miserable conditions conducive to infections and illnesses. We are exposed to insects and other animals: flies, wasps, scorpions and snakes.

Recently infectious illnesses have emerged such as hepatitis A; we now count 20 reported cases. The causes are a lack of hot water, very few communal toilets that do not work well and in which the sewage water overflows; waste collection taking place only twice a week; and the lack of medical assistance.

The number of healthcare personnel is minimal; bear in mind that amongst us there are pregnant women, new-born children and elderly people that need doctors. At night-time, in the closest city, Chalkidaque [Chalkida], 20 kilometres away, there are no specialised doctors and in the camp there is no ambulance.

To conclude with the problems of our daily life, we call for the right to dignity in these special conditions that have come into our lives, for which we are not to blame. We call for:

1. More food, adjusted to our needs (there is rarely meat in our food).

2. The tents are inadequate for a family to live in humane conditions.

3. Installation of more toilets that are decontaminated systematically.

4. Greater frequency of waste collections.

5. Fumigation against insects, rats and serpents.

6. Better behaviour on the part of some of those responsible for the camp (we do not know if they are volunteers or employees).

7. That the presence of the Red Cross matches up to the situation, as it is currently very low and is not in accordance with the organisation's name and its history.

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