Softex: Isolated in an industrial area

IMG_0922On the outskirts of Thessaloniki, in an industrial area, the camp Softex is located. In the middle of the area there is an unfinished building which has fallen into ruins surrounded by a spacious area covered with gravel next to an large depot. The camp is separated into three parts: Tents are in the depot and in two other areas next to it.

IMG_0848The different parts are separated by wire mesh fence, which is armed with NATO-type barbed wire. The complete area is surrounded by a fence and the only gate is guarded by the Greek military. Their building vehicles – painted in camouflage color – are are placed around the unfinished building in the middle.

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More than 1.000 people are ‚housed‘ in Softex, many of them have been in Idomeni before. There is just the most essential infrastructure in the camp: portable toilets, watering places, showers, one tent of the Red Cross. One looks in vain for shade-giving trees in this gravel area. Once per day food is served which is – as we know from the inhabitant M. – inedable. In the depot we can see the first signs of an own economy in the camp with small stalls run by refugees. But not for all inhabitants the food sold there is affordable anymore as they run out of the money they took with them when they fled.

IMG_0854On July 17th 2016 activists of the No Border Camp visited camp Softex with an protest caravan and distributed papers and information material and had a stationary protest in front of the depot together with the people from the camp. There was music playing and some were dancing. A woman we met next to this gathering was upset: „We are stuck in this awful camp and the only thing occurring to you is to write something about it?“

IMG_0867M. told us that there was nothing in Softex when they arrived from Idomeni: on the gravel area there were only a few empty tents without camp beds or toilets. Beds they only got now, after more than two months in the camp. He also told us about snakes which we had already heard in other camps.

IMG_0866A Syrian family told us about their story and situation while having a coffee with us. They are coming from an area controlled by IS. They had to flee from Assad’s bombs. In the situation right now they wait trying to bear the conditions while thinking about if they should go back to the civil war and their home being controlled by IS. The father told us that he thinks he will be killed by IS. IMG_0911But he would prefer to be killed by them instead of dying in this camp together with his children. The IS at least did nothing to his children, he said, but the situation here was especially oppressing for them. Someone else was cutting in at this point repeatedly and said that IS might not do anything physical to the children but will influence their minds.

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The people here are in complete isolation. Since Idomeni was evicted they are living in this remote gravel bed. M told us that we were the first „media“ in 2 months coming to the camp to report about the situation.

 

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Audio file:

A refugee reports about the Situation in Camp Softex. He is living there for 2 months now and talks about the insufficient provisioning and that there is hardly any possibility to talk to the media. He also talks about the experiences he had with the relocation program.

 

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