The conditions in the camp in Katsikas are terrible. From our judgement even worse than Idomeni. Around 1’000 people live in tents and have to sleep on the rocky ground. According to the UNHCR they are only 20 toilets and 12 showers in the whole camp. People stated that the food that the army supplies is very bad and access to doctors sometimes not given. If it rains, like on Monday, the camp floods and after the rain snakes and scorpions crawl around the camp.
A few hundert meters away, next to the highway, six buses have been parked since yesterday. People refuse to leave the buses. They were brought here from the now closed Nea Karvali camp. „First we were brought to the camp in Larissa. The situation there was bad so we refused to leave the bus. After two days they promised us to bring us to a another camp with better conditions. But they brought us here. Here the situation is even worse! We will not go to this camp. We are in this bus for 4 days now, and we will stay longer if they don’t bring us to a better place. We want to live like humans, not like animals!“
As we were speaking to them about their demands a group of about 30 people from the camp passed us by. They went straight on to the highway and started protesting, blocking all four lanes. They were very clear about their action: „If you do not scream, nobody will hear you. We cannot live longer in this camp, we are dying slowly.“
One protestor on the highway explained:
„If we do not scream, nobody will hear us. This is why we block the highway. I know that it is not right. But we are living like animals here. I can give you an example. There is no hot water in the camp. And people want to take a shower. It is as simple as that. So they boil hot water on the fire n cans. The can was closed and therefore high pressure was building inside. A girl tried to open it and the steam and hot water came out. I cried when I saw her. And believe me, I am a tough guy. I don’t cry much. Her whole face is burnt. Her face, her eyes, her ears. All the skin. The girl’s life is now ruined. This happens in Europe. We cannot live like that. They are treating us like animals. A whole life ruined because of no hot water. That’s wrong. That can’t be right. People don’t deserve to life like that. All of us risked our lives and our children’s lives at sea. We left our countries because of the war. We don’t deserve to live like that. If you don’t scream no-one listens. You have to scream sometimes. This is why we are here (on the highway). I know it’s wrong. Maybe some people need to pass. You saw the guy with his pregnant wive. We let him through.“
The protest is ongoing since about 6pm. People from the camp keep joining the protest. They are bringing blankets and sleeping bags, preparing to spend the night on the highway.
Meanwhile, the authorities feared that the people who refused to leave their buses would join the protest. Hastily they told the people in the buses that they will be brought to Thessaloniki now. Their collective refusal to leave the buses ended up successful for now. However, where they really will be brought to remains to be seen.
While the protests in Idomeni are continuing and international media is covering the situation there, the people in the other camps, scattered around Greece remain almost invisible. However, as the protest in Katsikas show, people are collectively fighting for their rights across Greece.