12.04.2016 “We are forgotten here!” A visit to the camp in Filippiada

The Camp is located in the Northwest of Greece, around 4 km outside the town of Filippiada. It is of the main road leading to Ioannina, with lots of traffic. It is situated on a large gravel-covered area. On the other side it faces a dense forest leading towards a river. In order to enter the camp, one has to register with the municipality. The reason given for this procedure: preventing smugglers from entering the camp. There are around 700 people living in the camp, half of which are children. People are sleeping in small tents, which each house around 7 people. In the back there is a paved area with Dixie toilets. There is a large warehouse on the site where volunteers from the close by town Arta distribute clothes and baby food for some hours during the day. Besides that there is nothing.

There are no organisations here, no journalists, the UNHCR has been here once. Now the Pope goes to the Islands. The media is on the Islands and at the border. We are forgotten here!” says A. a Syrian refugee who, like most other refugees, has been in the camp for almost a month. who is eight month pregnant and here with two children has her husband waiting for her in Germany. “I don’t want to give birth here. There are only male military doctors here. I need some proper care!” she exclaims.

While we were visiting the camp, a group of local lawyers came to “inform the people what their rights are.” As they started explaining in a large circle of people that they can ask for asylum or for the relocation program via Skype, the whole circle started laughing. “We have tried to call via Skype many, many times. None of us ever got through! We know we have the right to apply for asylum, but the system is not working.” one of the refugees explained.

Why did the EU close the border?” asked a young couple. “We came because we thought we can seek protection in Europe, but now we are placed here in a tent in the forest with snakes and nothing else. This is no live here!

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