01 June 2018
Lesvos, Greece: Message from Pikpa camp: Reaction to announcement toclose Pikpa camp
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"The North Aegean regional governor announced the closure of Pikpa camp on the basis of a report by the health inspection which found shortcomings in the common kitchen handled by the residents, a broken net in the food distribution area and a leakage to a water tank for washing machines. For these reasons, it considers Pikpa dangerous to public health and the environment.
It is important to remind that the forest and public health services visited at a time when Pikpa camp responded to the urgent need to host 350 Kurdish refugees who had left Moria camp after fights broke out. It was the police who insisted to host around 70 people who had fled to a park in Mytilini in Pikpa camp on Friday night 25 May. They guaranteed that the next day the families would be transferred to Kara Tepe. Instead the next day, up to 1000 Kurdish people left Moria camp and Pikpa camp did not hear back on the promise to transfer the people to Kara Tepe. As soon as the temporary emergency with the Kurdish refugees in Pikpa camp started, this extraordinary situation has been used against Pikpa camp. Apart from sending several inspection services to the camp in this period, a court case was launched by several hotel owners from the neighbourhood and a few individuals, which will be heard on 6 July.
For all these reasons, we consider this decision to close Pikpa camp a political move by certain actors who are opposing the model of solidarity that Pikpa camp represents. For years, many groups and volunteers are offering support in Pikpa camp which functions as a small, community-based camp for the most vulnerable refugees in the island. By now, Pikpa camp has hosted over 30,000 refugees, without any financial support from the state, the European Union or UNHCR. The long-standing and internationally acknowledged contribution of Pikpa camp to the refugee situation in Lesvos has turned the place into a symbol of solidarity. Moreover, as a local grassroots initiative, Pikpa camp has been working for many years together with the local community, to try and find solutions together.
Lesvos Solidarity offers support to Pikpa camp alongside many individuals and diverse groups and organisations. Lesvos Solidarity has no legal written or oral ownership of Pikpa camp. As an organisation Lesvos Solidarity also develops activities in Mosaik Support Centre, where it is based, and in other places in the island.
It is the conditions in Moria camp that really require an intervention by the regional governor for public health and environmental reasons. We consider this decision profoundly unfounded and unfair and a major blow to all solidarity actions in the island. We call on the regional governor to reconsider the decision. In any case, we remain determined as ever to continue our support for the symbol of solidarity that is Pikpa camp and to continue our actions in support of refugees and locals."
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