Help the migrants living in Eleonas resist their violent displacement
The struggle to prevent the closure of Eleonas camp continues. At 6am on the 30th of June we, the residents of Eleonas camp, will block the entrance of the camp, preventing any staff from entering. The blockade is in response to the decision of the Ministry not to renew the contracts of the social workers operating in the camp, therefore limiting our possibility to exercise our health, education and asylum rights. The Ministry has also ordered the limitation of movement and is using an outdated and incorrect list of residents to prevent people who live in the camp from entering. In addition, IOM staff will stop to work in the camp today. The camp is not yet closed, and its closure would result in hundreds of residents being forcibly displaced to camps outside of Athens with limited access to essential services such as healthcare and education. In these confinement camps, people without papers also face conditions of exploitation, blackmail, and the threat of deportation. We have been holding daily protests against the closure of Eleonas camp for over a week.
We suspect that the failure to renew the contracts of the social workers and the planned closure of the camp are linked. They want to remove the civil society actors from the camp to avoid accountability and are able to violently evict us. Nobody from the camp will leave voluntarily.
We are demanding that our social workers are reinstated, and until then none of the staff will be accepted into the camp. In addition, only 12 families out of the over 300 residents of the camp are receiving food from the Ministry, and these families are refusing this food until the government agrees to feed all of us residents. We want the right to work and papers for all of the residents of Eleonas camp. On Tuesday 28th of June, hundreds of locals and migrants marched from Eleonas to the Ministry of Immigration to deliver a letter outlining our demands regarding the planned closure of the camp.
The demands delivered to the Ministry are
• Stop all attempts to close Eleonas camp
• Stop any attempt to forcibly displace the inhabitants of the camp
• The Municipality of Athens and the Ministry of Migration and Asylum must ensure that the support activities carried out by the organizations and the social workers operating in the camp are not stopped
• The Ministry of Migration and Asylum must guarantee Cash Assistance for all the inhabitants of the camp, as established by the Estia program
• The Ministry of Migration and Asylum must ensure that people transferred from the refugee camps to housing projects under the Estia program over the last few months will not be forced to leave their homes before completing their asylum procedures.
"When we arrived in Greece, in Europe, we were fleeing conflict, violence, persecution. Here we brought our hope of being able to start a new life, for us and for our children, in peace. But the Greek authorities do not see in us human beings forced to flee, they see in us a problem to hide, taking us away from the eyes of Greek citizens, closing us in camps far away from the cities and from the rest of society. We know that the Greeks are not as racist as their government, and we ask them to show their solidarity and to support our struggle to live together, free and equal. The camps where they want to transfer us to, the kids are not going to school, and they don`t have access to health and social services. Now, what kind of educational future do our kids have in this country? The new manager of Eleonas Camp, Maria-Dimitra Nioutsikou, has been the camp manager in Samos for long time. People know her from there, and they don`t want her here, because she is against migrants and refugees. People are scared of her. They called her to come and "solve the issue", and the only thing she wants to do is a transfer: sending people to a place where they don't want to go. Since she is here, people are leaving. The situation is very complicated, and we don't know what will happen tomorrow. We are humans, not animals. There is no opportunity for us to integrate into the Greek society. We are all so tired. I remember, when we came here to Greece for the first time, the first thing they asked us was if we want to stay in Greece. But we stay here in which conditions? With our kids not going to school? Without work, without access to the hospital, without food, without papers? How they want us to stay here? If they don't want us in their country, we ask them to open the borders and let us go! Give papers to anyone and let us go! In Greece, we are not living, we are trying to survive. We are not living in this country. And we don`t know for how long time they will continue maltreating us."
Statement by Solidarity with Migrants political assembly
On the 16th of August, the Greek government decided to enter the camp with police and military as a final operation to finally evacuate it. Residents who organized and joined the protest have been threatened by the camp manager and the municipality that their "participation in the struggle will have consequences". The camp will become a football stadium. This all is part of a gentrification process accompanied by big police operations all around the city to "clean" it from migrants and homeless people and make it more white for tourists. The NGOs working in Eleonas camp are indirectly involved in the closing procedure since they immediately stopped providing food, clothes and social services even though their funding continues, and many of them prohibited their volunteers to participate in the protest and any other political activities connected to Eleonas camp. To us, this is another form of blackmail.
Given the fact that the police has been using even more violent force to quell protests and demonstrations in recent weeks, and the lack of strong local participation and international attention, other strategies must be taken into account regarding the large number of people that will be displaced in the next weeks. While we are pressuring local organizations to provide housing and financial support, we ask for funding in order to be able to support the Eleonas community. supporting the migrants of Eleonas is both an issue of material needs (to buy anything from pharmaceutical stuff to baby food) and an issue of political struggle (to buy propaganda material, banners etc). In this dire situation, we need your solidarity. Please consider donating any amount of money you are able to and also distribute/popularize this campaign in order to reach more people.
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