Open letter

This is not Disneyland

Refugees from Moria once again address the European public in the face of rising Corona numbers in the camp.

++ Deutsche Version ++

While Greece is preparing for the vacation season and stores and restaurants are gradually reopening, the situation of refugees in the camps is worsening. In the successor camp to Moria, the number of people infected with Corona has recently risen sharply. More than a hundred people are in quarantine. The fact that aid workers do not adhere to hygiene rules aoutrages the refugees, organized as the Moria Corona Awareness Team and Moria White Helmets, who have been doing everything they can for a year to prevent Corona from spreading in the camp. Since hardly anyone outside the camp seems to take notice of the rising Corona numbers among the refugees, they are once again addressing the European public with a letter.

To all citizens of Europe,

We know you are tired of hearing this, but since hardly anyone is writing anything about this then we feel like it is our duty to make it clear that the threatening covid-19 situation in the camp is not passing, it is in fact escalating: everything we warned about for one year ago now seems to become reality! People are of course very scared about that. The last time we had many cases of covid-19 in the camp, the camp burnt down, and everything that happened in the night of the fire, and the weeks after too, placed us in an even worse situation in all ways.

As Greece is about to open its border to welcome the tourist season, and all the restaurants and shops have been reopened, our situation in the camp is deteriorating. An increasing number of people are testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, resulting in more than a hundred in the quarantine.

Covid-19 comes with many bad effects. It is not only about people getting sick and possibly dying from it, or even the lack of hospital beds and staff and equipment for treatment. In December last year, a report was published saying that every third refugee in Lesvos had suicidal thoughts, and every fifth refugee had attempted to end their own life. This is also a consequence of the pandemic. Since last year we have been able to exit the camp only on specific days because of Covid-19. This results in us not being able to go to visit an NGO having activities, or to go to the shop to buy food and things like this.

All informal education in the camp has again been suspended, so our children are again not receiving any education in any way. With the weather getting warm, our tents are filled with insects and many snakes are starting to find their way inside our tents. The food situation is not good either. That we have to stay in the camp makes people even more dependent on the food that they receive from food line. This food comes with many problems: it is not of good quality, very often then it is not cooked well that what we receive is raw, other than this then it is too little food, and sometimes this food will be either spoiled and rotten – and people are saying that they are becoming sick with food poisoning from eating this food! All in all, because of situation, then people are forced to spend most of their time on the inside of this fence where we are dependent on so many things that are still not good, and so many of us start to forget what life on the outside is like. This situation is only increasing our mental health problems.

We also want to say, that with several NGOs, those who should be setting the example for everyone, are still walking around the camp with no mask, with no social distancing, even posting pictures on their social media of them doing this. Over the past year, despite all of our warnings to them to comply, then they have kept violating the Covid preventions. We have heard of several NGO partying when Lesvos was in deep red lockdown, and we know that some NGO-people entered the camp with no quarantine, and some has even been staying overnight in the camp.

Sorry, but this is not Disneyland!

Good intentions do not allow for all sort of behavior, especially not, if this behavior has negative consequences for us and the locals on Lesvos. If you are really here to help us, then please start by listening to what we are saying, because your behaviour affects us directly. We are doing everything we can here, but we need everyone to cooperate so that we can get through this. Let us help you to help us!

The results of NGOs not respecting Covid-19 prevention is that many refugees look at what NGOs do, and from that the refugees say and think that Covid-19 prevention is not important, that Corona virus does not exist, and that Covid-19 is not dangerous for them. As a result, they don’t wear masks and don’t keep distance, and when they do get sick, then they don’t understand the reason of why they must quarantine etc. This all creates a very bad cycle for everyone involved. We tried everything we could for over a full year to spread awareness and teach people how to take care. Now we ask you, please, you tell us what shall we do now?

We try to stay peaceful and to cooperate. But this is only possible when our living conditions are being improved. Please understand, we do not ask for anything beyond what we are entitled to, but now our situation is again very bad. We need immediate efforts to solve these problems, so it does not explode – again!

Over the past weeks, many people have been demonstrating against the conditions. People are completely exhausted, and they are feeling very hopeless. The promise we were given from Greek politicians and the EU was that there would be “no more Morias”, but everything is repeating itself. With this letter we want to remind you that we, the refugees at Lesvos, we are still here, and our situation is about to get very bad again and we are calling upon:

1. To all the staff and volunteers of NGOs: Please take Covid-19-prevention seriously when you come to Lesvos and want to help refugees! That you are good role models of Covid-19-prevention

  • by wearing masks and keeping physical distance.
  • by entering the camp only with a negative test.
  • by reducing the traffic of staff and volunteers entering the camp.

2. Everyone else reading: We are seemingly voiceless and our warnings are not being heard. Therefore, we ask you to forward our demands to the European Union. No one in Europe should be able to say that they did not know of what is happening. We are in immediate need of action to stop the pandemic among refugees. Hence, we need cooperation from all those who are responsible. Like always, then we are ready to assist anyone that can help us to help ourselves.

Moria Corona Awareness Team
Moria White Helmets

"Would we be treated like this if we were animals?"

Open letter, december 2020: Christmas greeting from Moria II

Published: 17. May 2021

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