Sometimes only a fence distinguishes hell from hope

by Anna Grabner-Strobach,  2020/03/03

„All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Article 1 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dramatic scenes take place at the Turkish-Greek border. Since Turkey announced to open the gates to the external EU borders and to let refugees pass, thousands of people hit the road. The situation threatens to escalate. The Greek border police responds with tear gas and military. There were also single, but targeted attacks on humanitarian personnel. The Greek police has banned humanitarian organizations from the area. They are no longer allowed to provide help for arriving people. But the people will come. The border is already open and it is merely a matter of time before ships will start to arrive.

What will the people encounter when they finally arrive in the promised land? A way out of war and violence into a new safe future, while being received by heavily armed military and police?

„Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Article 3 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Violence, destruction, war and terror are the reasons why people decide to leave their home countries. The promise of a life in safety is reason enough to set off, mostly by foot, and leave behind all, which used to be important. Every two seconds a human being takes flight. More than 70 million people are on the run worldwide (UNHCR).

Our friendly Netherlands partner organization Bootvluchteling is active in Greece and in urgent need of support. Photo: Tessa Kraan/Boat Refugee Foundation

Nearly two thirds of all boat refugees, who arrive via the Mediterranean Sea, strand in Greece. The Greek island Lesbos is situated about 10 km in front of the Turkish coast. A few days ago, more than 40,000 refugees were accommodated on the island. The situation in Lesbos was already strained by then. Triggers were the controversial Camp Moria as well as the plan to build new camps. Once and again the population clashed with the police. The Greek people feel left alone – by their own government, but most of all by the EU.

Camp Moria is the biggest camp on the island. At the moment 18,000 people live in this provisory tent village, which has been planned to accommodate no more than 2,800. There is only one toilet available for 100 people. Running water or electricity are wishful thinking and the waiting line for food is endless. There is virtually no medical care at all.

18,000 people now live in a provisory camp, which was planned to accommodate no more than 3,000. Photo: Tessa Kraan/Boat Refugee Foundation

Last Monday a humedica intervention member has set off for Greece to support the friendly Netherlands partner organization Bootvluchteling (Boat Refugee Foundation) in Camp Moria. In light of recent events we are not able to guarantee the safety of our team member, so we decided to skip the intervention for the next days. humedica nevertheless monitors the situation on site and does not look away, when people need help – regardless of their origin or faith.

Despite all the currently mounting fury and insecurity, we must not forget that on the other side of the fence are people and children, who also have a right to live and grow up in safety.

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