The Camp of Lagkadikia is located aroud 40 minutes drive east of Thessaloniki. The camp is run by the UNHCR and the Ministry of Migration Greece . Also the Danish Refugee Council is present. Military and police are controlling the entrace with half a dozen people. It is about one kilomter walking from the village of Lagkadikia, where there is nothing exept a small supermarket and a few small cafés, to the camp. The terrain is fenced and an extra high fence is protecting the containers of the Ministry of Migrtion and the UNHCR. Most of the tents are exposed o the burning sun and there is a lack of shadow. Huge piles of rubbish are in the camp and some of the taps do not work constantly. A family tells us that they prefer to buy their own food because the provided food from UNHCR is not good.
Nea Kavala is a camp about 25km from Idomeni and located by Polykastro. It was build on an formerly military base an can accommodate about 5000 people. On an grassland with gravel paths sprawls an enclosed tent camp, which does not conform with an minimum standard. There are neither trees nor bushes, which could provide a bit shade. At the entrance a sign is emblazoned, that says, that this camp was financed by the EU. Instead of Toilets, this camp has only mobile toilets and the water supply just works from time to time. In the entrance area you can find big water tanks, filled by military, which supply the taps in the camp. There is never cold water, because it heats up in the tanks made out of metal. Almost cynically a flag of the NGO ’save the children‘ waves over all this failing between fences and barbed wire.
On 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.
The 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.
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.
The camp near the small village Katsikas exists for 4-5 months now and currently about 800 people are living there. The camp is organized by soldiers(?) in training, therefore they aren´t allowed to wear weapons (yet). Besides military and police there are NGOs like MSF, Medicins du Monde and Lighthouse. Food is provided by military once a day, the mainpart of infrastructure is arranged by volunteers. We talked to volunteers and refugees on site.
A family with many children told us about their desire to go to Germany or maybe Spain. A lot of their relatives already live in Germany. They repeatedly pointed out the very bad circumstances in Greece. There were snakes, they said, and showed us their swollen insect stings.
The camp is situated next to a highway, on a gravel field betweet two mountain chains without any protection against sun or wind. In blazing heat with more than 30 degrees there is hardly anybody outside the tends. The military only provides the most necessary things for the people that live inside these tends. Any infrastructure that´s available was established by the people themselves in cooperation with the volunteers. Even the volunteer´s food the people favor over the uneatlable food the military provides.
This morning we arrived in Greece. Our first stop will be the No Border Camp in Thessaloniki.
4 months passed since we left Greece – shortly before the so called Balcan route was offically closed. In the meantime we observed the changes from Germany. The situation now differs completely from the one we saw before. The camp Idomeni has been evicted and there are still thousands of people stuck in Greece who are now forced to look for different, more dangerous routes.
The circumstances under which the people are forced to stay in the camps are described as devastating by the refugees. We want to get a comprehensive picture of the changes and to meet up again with a few friends we got to know during our last trip.
Moving Europe published a map of the positions of different refugee camps being partially run by military. We want to visit several of them to get an idea of the situation of the people staying there. http://moving-europe.org/mapping-of-refugee-camps-in-northern-greece/
Feeling a bit queasy, we get on the way…