Violence and tensions currently tend to become routine at the Reception and Identification Center (RIC) – the so-called hotspot in Lesbos “Moria”. Hundreds of refugees are enduring there with their families – among them are also victims of torture lacking the necessary medical and psychosocial support. In total, more than 4,500 refugees and migrants are trapped on Lesvos Island, which has only capacity of 3,500 places in government-run facilities. The riots that occurred on Tuesday in Moria during a refugee protest against the many months of detention and the failure to examine their asylum claims ended in the uncontrolled use of tear gas against them and the injuries and the arrest of dozens of people. The delays in the asylum process, the increasing number of rejections, the condition of overcrowdedness and the lack of security have pushed refugees to their limits. As a result protests have augmented in the last period. In the following “Refugees Support in the Aegean” (RSA) quotes three testimonies.
«We feel like being in Syria or Afghanistan»
Α., refugee from Afghanistan*
I am since seven months in Moria. All this period I am staying in a small tent, which I have to share with another eight persons. I was inside this tent during snow- and rainfalls this winter and when a heat wave struck us the last days. I have a health problem, but appointments with doctors are delayed. In fact, we have no support from nowhere. Before there used to be many organisations inside Moria, now only few stayed back. Many times, we suffer from stomache problems, due to the food they give us here. There is criminality inside the camp. We report the perpetrators to the police, but they won’t react. During the riots yesterday we went out of Moria together with families and children in order not to get injured. I am afraid that one day something bad will happen to me here. We feel we are not in a European country, but in Syria or Afghanistan.
«Constant violations of human rights»
Ζ., refugee from Syria*
I arrived a month ago in Lesvos. As Moria is full, they put me in a small tent outside with four other Syrian refugees. Within this camp there occur constant and enormous violations of human rights. They do not allow journalists to enter and record what’s going on. There are people with war injuries and victims of torture with intense psychological problems, but there is actually no psychological support. The worst I have seen so far is the police attacking on a peaceful refugee demonstration, asking for freedom of movement in Greece on Tuesday. It was a peaceful demonstration that ended in absolute chaos with extreme use of force on the part of the police. Police officers and private security staff were running up and down to frighten people. We saw uniformed policemen and civil police officers beating the refugees. All this happened only because the refugees were asking for their asylum applications to be examined. Officials of the European Asylum Service (EASO) were trapped inside their offices where they hid to protect themselves, while leaving outside babies and children exposed to the riots which were taking place. I was shocked by this scene.
«Our demand is very simple»
Τ., refugee from Congo*
We were realising a peaceful demonstration, during which we sat in front of the offices of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and later we blocked the street. This made the authorities furious and they ordered the police to use tear-gas against us. We then started throwing stones. The situation got out of control. One man from Mali was hit by the tear-gas on his chest, and many others got injured too. One pregnant lady was beaten by the police; also another two girls. One minor was hit by the tear-gas on his leg; another one was hit by an officer with a club on his mouth, which caused strong bleedings. The police broke the doors of the containers where refugees are staying and arrested them violently. There are many people in detention after these arrests. When will the EU-Turkey Deal stop? I am already since six months in this place. Why are the authorities limiting our freedom of movement within Greece? Our demand is very simple but despite this fact they keep us captured in Moria. Why?
* Names of the interviewees have been withheld to protect their privacy and security.