Roughly 20 minutes away of the center of Thessaloniki is the camp “Dervini” run by the greek military in between mountains, next to the highway. The camp is an old factory site with old depots surrounded by fences. The depots are made out of metal and heat up unbearably in the sun. In the depots and on the ground there are an uncountable number of tents. These are, especially inside the depots, excruciatingly hot. Police officers and soldiers are walking – most likely for surveillance – on the ceiling making an unbearable noise.
In the camp of Derveni are approx. 800 people from Aleppo housed right now. They are part of the group of people who stayed and waited in Idomeni for months until they were evicted by police. Several refugees told us that the situation was better back in Idomeni as there was at least some infrastructure. In camp Derveni, there is just one tiny play ground for all the children in the middle of the camp, on the asphalted surface without any sun cover. There are no schools and nothing else is offered for the inhabitants at all.
The sanitary facilities are in disastrous condition and the smell spreads into the complete area of the camp. Showers only provide cold water. The inhabitant F. told us that they put water-filled plastic bottles in the sun to get warm water to wash themselves.
The is no transport for the refugees to Thessaloniki. Therefore, they walk along the road and beneath a highway to get to the next supermarket. The inhabitant F. informed us that the medical care in the camp is limited to three hours per day and is restricted to the prescription of painkillers. She also told us that, if they have to go to a hospital, they are only brought to the hospital in Thessaloniki but are not transported back afterwards. But there are many who can not afford the bus ticket back to the camp. F., who had a swollen foot, which was poorly wrapped with dressing material, had her foot twisted at night just a few days before. She said that she can not pay for the bus and will stay in the camp, hoping the foot will heal by itself.
As the camp is run by the military, it is not allowed for persons from outside to enter officially. The inhabitants let volunteers and activists in through a specially made entry to show the inhuman conditions. The entry is also used to smuggle in donated goods and clothes unseen by police officers and soldiers.
The military provides the most basic food supply. Twice per day the people get a small bowl with something indeterminable to eat. Several inhabitants pointed out that the food is not good for them but they do not have enough money to buy different food all the time. F. told us that the food they got had been spoiled several time since the last months.Once they even got spoiled eggs.
She told us about her one-year-old daughter, who got a severe allergy after an insect bite. According to the doctor, her daughter should only get fresh food. But the food they usually get makes the allergy worse again and again, therefore, she is hardly eating anything by now.
Another inhabitant told us about snakes inside the camp. Since the inhabitants worry that those might bite their children playing outside, they strike the snakes dead. The soldiers asked them to stop this.
F. revealed to us, that she gave up all hope for herself. She only wishes for a better life for her children. She hopes that they can go to school and live a better life.
The migration policy of the European Union does not only forfeit the lives of the ones being on the run as adults, but of numerous generations. Some refugees point out that this camp is no place to live in but a prison. F. said to us “ In Syria it is a brutal but fast death. Here we are slowly dying“.
On our second visit a crowd is gathering at the entry of the camp. The refugees are protesting in front of the soldiers and police officers for better conditions. Furthermore, they are talking to representatives of UNHCR, which started to get involved in the camp yesterday (16.7.).